World Bulletin / News Desk
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday kidnapped seven soldiers in Iraq's western Anbar province, a local security official has said.
According to the official, members of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group abducted seven off-duty Iraqi soldiers in Anbar's city of Fallujah and took them to an undisclosed location.
As of 9:25am (GMT), however, the ISIL had not claimed responsibility for kidnapping the soldiers.
The official said the Iraqi government was communicating with tribal leaders and religious figures in Fallujah in an effort to secure the soldiers' release.
Meanwhile, Iraqi tribal leader Rafei al-Gameili told Anadolu Agency that armed confrontations between tribesmen and military forces were still ongoing in several parts of eastern Fallujah.
While al-Gameili said the army had suffered casualties, the army has yet to confirm the assertion.
In late December, ISIL seized control of large swathes of the Anbar province, including Fallujah and provincial capital Ramadi. Over the weekend, Iraqi forces launched an offensive aimed at dislodging ISIL fighters from the latter city.
Sunni tribal leaders in Fallujah have already appointed a new city administrator and police chief – a sign of weakened government control over the city.
The move comes amid ongoing clashes between army troops and armed tribesmen in the predominantly Sunni province.
Anbar has been rocked by violence since late December, when Iraqi security forces dismantled a months-old anti-government sit-in outside Ramadi.Last Mod: 22 Ocak 2014, 14:12