A joint army and police force killed two gunmen suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda and arrested five others in a security operation launched in Salah al-Din province, Iraqi police announced Wednesday (April 25th).
"The operation was launched based on information submitted by fishermen and villagers in the Diyoum district west of Tikrit," Brig. Gen. Jassem Wadi al-Samarrae, deputy chief of the Salah al-Din police, told Mawtani.
The joint force carried out the operation beginning Tuesday night and going into Wednesday morning, with 80 army soldiers and 50 policemen taking part, along with a police dog unit and another for clearing mines, he said.
Fierce clashes erupted between the Iraqi forces and the armed men resulting in the death of two gunmen, a soldier and a policeman, and the injury of eight security men, al-Samarrae said.
During the operation, the force found 122 explosive charges hidden inside a huge cache located on the shores of a small river used to water the farms. The security force also discovered ammunition for Kalashnikov and anti-aircraft guns, rounds for RPG-7 rockets and barrels containing TNT and black powder, he said.
"An engineering unit belonging to the army moved the contents of the cache, because of their potential danger, to a military base in the desert area west of Tikrit, where the ammunition will be disposed of," said Lt. Col. Safa Ghanim, commander of the Salah al-Din police's rapid intervention force.
"The huge stockpile of ammunitions kept by al-Qaeda would have sustained the organisation's daily death machine for more than a whole year," he told Mawtani.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abdullah, the deputy governor of Salah al-Din, said the operation succeeded in "removing a serious threat to the entire area".
"The citizens who informed the security forces on the location of the al-Qaeda ammunition cache will receive a cash reward from the local government and priority in receiving easy-term agricultural loans," he said.
Abdullah urged citizens who sustained damages at the hands of the five terrorists (whose names will be publicised in the newspapers and over the local radio station) to visit a specialised court in the province to file legal suites against them beginning next Sunday.