Eight members of a U.S.-created security force were killed in an ambush near the central Iraqi city of Baquba, state-sponsored al-Iraqiyah television reported.
The Sons of Iraq fighters were attacked at a checkpoint, the broadcaster said. About 60 people, many of them police, were killed yesterday in at least 13 coordinated bombings.
Violence in Iraq has picked up amid the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops and as its political leaders debate the formation of a new government following March parliamentary elections.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said yesterday that al-Qaeda and other insurgents are targeting civilians and state institutions in an effort to disrupt stability and shake the public’s faith in Iraqi security forces ahead of a full withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of next year.
The Sons of Iraq, also known as the Sahwa or the Awakening Councils, was organized by the U.S. military in 2006. The U.S. hailed the decision of its Sunni Muslim members to turn against al-Qaeda as a key to a country-wide decline in attacks about a year later.
Al-Maliki’s Shiite Muslim-led administration took charge of the force in 2008 and said it would disband the militia by absorbing 20 percent of its members into the police and army, and finding jobs for the rest. Many Sons of Iraq fighters have complained the government isn’t keeping its promises or doing enough to protect them against revenge attacks.
The U.S. military presence in Iraq has dropped below 50,000 troops, which Vice President Joe Biden on Aug. 24 called a “remarkable milestone” for both countries. The remaining troops will mainly advise and assist Iraqi forces.
Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that he doesn’t believe the recent spate of attacks by al-Qaeda will spawn widespread violence.