Five soldiers were killed during clashes with militants in the Jurf al-Sakhr area south of Baghdad. Gunmen also killed a police colonel in his home in the city of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, and shot dead four soldiers on the area's main highway, while a bomb killed five police farther north.

And militants killed a police captain who was attempting to evacuate his family from the town of Sulaiman Bek, part of which has been seized by gunmen. Security forces are frequently targeted with bombings and shootings by militants opposed to the government.

Another 22 people died in attacks and clashes earlier on Friday. Violence has reached a level not seen since 2008, when Iraq was just emerging from a period of brutal sectarian killings. Foreign leaders have urged the Shiite-led government to do more to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab minority to undercut support for militants.

But Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has taken a hard line ahead of a general election scheduled for April.


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