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60 killed in Iraqi province in two weeks

Baghdad, Jan 12 - At least 60 people were killed and 297 injured in clashes between security forces and militant groups in Iraq's Anbar province in the last two weeks, an official and a police source said Saturday.

"Many women and children were among the dead as the clashes and the shelling hit residential areas in the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah," Xinhua reported citing head of Anbar Health Directorate Khudeir Khalaf Shalal.

The battles between hundreds of Sunni tribesmen backed by the Iraqi security forces and Al Qaeda fighters continued Saturday in eastern and northeastern districts of Ramadi city, a provincial police source said.

Meanwhile, the tribesmen and the army re-took control of the town of Khaldiyah city, and pushed Al Qaeda militants to the edges of the town after several days of fierce clashes, the source said.

More clashes occurred in the town of Garma, some 10 km from Fallujah city, when the security forces and the tribesmen fought Al Qaeda gunmen who control large part of the town, the source added.

In addition, two children were killed and as many people wounded in Garma late Friday night when several mortar rounds landed on residential areas in the town, the source said.

Anbar province has been the scene of fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December last year.(IANS)

According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, which is the highest annual toll for years.