Iraq militants kill 9 in police station attack

Militants attacked a police station in north Iraq Wednesday with mortar rounds and automatic weapons, killing nine police, while 10 people died in other violence, security officers and doctors said.

The violence comes a day after an Al-Qaeda front group claimed brazen assaults on two prisons in Iraq that killed more than 40 people, among them 20 members of the security forces, and saw hundreds of inmates, including senior militants, escape.

Security forces are hunting the prisoners who escaped during the assaults that began on Sunday night and continued into Monday, to prevent them rejoining the ranks of the militants and carrying out further attacks.

"Security forces are continuing their (deployment) in the areas surrounding the two prisons," interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said, adding that a "large number" of escapees had been recaptured without saying how many.

Wednesday's police station attack, which occurred about 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of the northern city of Mosul, also wounded two policemen.

It was followed by a roadside bomb explosion as emergency personnel rushed to the scene, wounding another two people.

Gunmen also killed a soldier in Mosul itself, while armed men killed a man in Baquba city north of the capital, and the bodies of three men who had been shot dead were found in the Baghdad area.

A suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle attacked an army patrol in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing a soldier and wounding seven other people.

And on a highway in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, militants with heavy machineguns attacked an army checkpoint and a joint army-police convoy in an apparent attempt to free a captured senior Al-Qaeda member who was being transported in the convoy.

The attack left four militants dead, while four soldiers and a militant were wounded.

Iraq has faced years of attacks by militants, but analysts say widespread discontent among members of its Sunni Arab minority, which the government has failed to address, has fuelled the surge in unrest this year.

Security forces are frequently targeted by militants opposed to the government in Baghdad.

With the latest unrest, more than 660 people have been killed so far in July, making it the deadliest month in a year marked by spiralling violence.

Iraq's Sunni Arabs accuse the Shiite-led government of marginalising and targeting their community, including through unwarranted arrests and terrorism charges.

Protests broke out in Sunni-majority areas at the end of 2012 and are still ongoing.

In addition to the major problems with security, the government in Baghdad is also failing to provide adequate basic services such as electricity and clean water, while corruption is widespread.

Political squabbling has further paralysed the government, which has passed almost no major legislation in years.