Peshmerga among 11 killed in Iraq gun battle

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) – Eight Kurdish Peshmerga troops and three militant gunmen were killed in a battle northeast of Baghdad on Thursday, a spokesman for the Kurdish forces said.

Major-General Jabbar Yawar, spokesman for the Peshmerga units of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, said the fighting took place near the town of Khanaqin.

Khanaqin, 140 km (85 miles) northeast of Baghdad, is in the volatile province of Diyala, near the border with the Kurdish region and Iran.

The Peshmergas, who have fought alongside U.S. and Iraqi troops, were attacked by gunmen with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

Five Peshmerga were wounded and the fighting continued into the afternoon near the ethnically and religiously mixed town.

No information about the identity of the gunmen was immediately available. Al Qaeda and other Sunni Islamist insurgents have been pushed into Diyala and other areas north of Baghdad since a security crackdown began in mid-February.

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