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Officials: militants take control of north Iraq village

Sarha lies close to the town of Sulaiman Bek, which has repeatedly been targeted in the past year by militants

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Militants took control of a village in northern Iraq on Friday after staging a coordinated pre-dawn assault and setting off a massive suicide truck bomb, two officials said.

The blast in the village of Sarha killed two senior police officers, but the overall toll was not immediately clear, according to Lieutenant General Abdulamir al-Zaidi, head of a northern Iraq security command, and Shallal Abdul, mayor of the nearby town of Tuz Khurmatu.

Sarha lies close to the town of Sulaiman Bek, which has repeatedly been targeted in the past year by militants who have sought to take control of the area, and the latest move is a small-scale version of an ongoing months-long crisis being played out in Iraq’s western Anbar province, where militants have seized control of major territory.

Clashes initially broke out early Friday morning in the Sarha region between anti-government fighters and police manning checkpoints, and an explosion was set off at a bridge in the area as well, according to Abdul.

Shortly after, a suicide bomber detonated a truck rigged with explosives near an army base where police and troops were holding a senior meeting, killing two people and wounding seven others.

The dead were police Brigadier General Ragheb al-Timimi and his deputy Colonel Jawad Mohammed, while the wounded included three police and four soldiers.