RAMADI, Iraq – Jihadists took staff and students hostage on Saturday, June 7, at a university campus in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, where security forces have battled anti-government fighters for months, police said.
The attack is the third major operation by militants in 3 days, following heavy fighting and suicide bombings in northern Iraq on Friday and a major assault on the city of Samarra on Thursday.
The militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group infiltrated the university from the nearby Al-Tasha area, killed its guards, and blew up the bridge leading to its main gate, police said.
An Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist said that security forces have cordoned off the campus.
The attack came a day after violence, including heavy fighting between militants and security forces and twin suicide bombings targeting a minority group, killed at least 36 people in the northern province of Nineveh.
And on Thursday, militants seized multiple areas of Samarra in a major assault that was only repelled after house-to-house fighting and helicopter strikes.
Violence is running at its highest levels since 2006-2007, when tens of thousands were killed in sectarian conflict between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority. (READ: Fighting in Iraq’s Anbar forces 500,000 to flee – UNHCR)
Officials blame external factors for the rise in bloodshed, particularly the civil war in neighboring Syria.
But analysts say widespread Sunni Arab anger with the Shiite-led government has also been a major factor. – Rappler.com