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Gunmen kill 4 members of Iraqi security forces
Gunmen kill 4 members of security forces in attacks across Iraq
By The Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) ' Gunmen killed two Iraqi soldiers and two police officers in a series of shootings on Saturday, officials said, in the latest attacks amid an escalating political crisis.

Suspected Sunni insurgents have frequently targeted Iraqi security forces to undermine public confidence in the Shiite-dominated government and its efforts to protect people. But the country is in the grips of a political crisis pitting the government against the largest Sunni-backed bloc, which has fueled fears that an ongoing spike in violence targeting primarily Shiites could nudge the country back toward sectarian conflict.

The two soldiers were killed when assailants fired on an Iraqi military patrol in the former al-Qaida stronghold city of Fallujah, according to police officials in the city some 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad. Fallujah hospital officials confirmed the death toll.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Another attack took place in the predominantly Sunni town of Hawija, a former insurgent stronghold located 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad, when gunmen opened fire on the house of a police officer, killing one of his guards, said Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir.

Qadir, the police commander in the nearby city of Kirkuk, said the officer was unharmed in the attack.

In Baghdad, gunmen also killed a police officer late Saturday in a drive-by shooting, police and hospital officials said on condition of anonymity.

A wave of bombing attacks has killed at least 160 people ' most of them Shiite ' since the last American troops withdrew from Iraq in December.

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