Citizens, officials and tribal sheikhs in Anbar province condemned Monday's (March 5th) attacks that targeted several checkpoints and security posts in Haditha.
The attacks, carried out by gunmen driving four-wheel drive vehicles, killed 27 people and wounded eight others.
Federal police forces commander Maj. Gen. Mohammed Rashid said that 50 gunmen on 11 black four-wheel drive vehicles entered Haditha from the east at 3 am, simultaneously attacking local Iraqi police checkpoints and Iraqi special forces bases using machine guns and hand grenades.
Commander of Iraq's special forces, Col. Mohammed Shufair, and its intelligence director Capt. Khalid al-Hadithi were among the dead, Rashid said.
Col. Khamees al-Dulaimi of Anbar police accused in a statement to Mawtani al-Qaeda and affiliated groups of carrying out the attacks.
He said the attacks are an attempt to undermine security and stability in the province.
"The Iraqi forces launched a large security campaign in Anbar's cities to capture the individuals who were involved in planning and executing those attacks," he said.
During one of the attacks Monday, the police in the western sector clashed with six attackers, al-Dulaimi said. Police killed a would-be suicide bomber and wounded five other gunmen who were captured and taken to a hospital under tight security.
"Anbar province formed an investigative team to probe the terrorist attacks and hold the individuals involved in them accountable," he said.
Hundreds of Anbar citizens on Monday converged on funeral processions along with tribal sheikhs, religious leaders, and security and political officials. Attendees called on authorities to prosecute the individuals responsible for the attacks.
"Hundreds of martyrs among Anbar's sons fell in the course of our war against terrorism in recent years," said Sheikh Obaid Nasser al-Dulaimi, a tribal sheik in Anbar. "They will not take Anbar back to square one because we will work with the security services and stand by the rule of law to strike at the terrorists' strongholds, wherever they are, to safeguard the nation's security."
Al-Dulaimi called on the Iraqi government and security authorities to accelerate their efforts to prosecute the offenders in accordance with Iraqi law, ensuring they do not go unpunished.
"They must serve as a lesson to other terrorists who indulge in killing the innocent and sabotaging the country," al-Dulaimi said. "The ideology of al-Qaeda is aimed at re-activating its sleeping cells by launching sinister operations; therefore, we should confront this ideology and fight it so that we can live in peace."
Ghazi Tauk, a Haditha resident, also called on the Iraqi government to "arrest all those who were involved in killing our sons and brothers and ensure their trial be made public through the media so that they serve as a lesson to others."
Tauk's brother, a policeman, died during an attack on one of the security posts.
"The sacrifices made by the sons of Iraq are considerable and will not be made in vain," he said. "What happened today will not scare us. Rather, it will increase our determination to pursue the terrorists and support the Iraqi forces."