Maliki’s top army general killed west of Baghdad

General Negm Abdullah Ali was in charge of securing part of the capital Baghdad

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A senior general of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s army was killed in battle on Monday, Maliki’s office said in a statement.

Major General Negm Abdullah Ali, the army commander of the sixth division in charge of securing part of the capital Baghdad “met martyrdom on the battlefield as he was fighting ... terrorists,” the statement said, without giving further details.

Army spokesman Lieutenant General Qassem Atta told AFP that General Abdullah Ali was killed by “hostile shelling” west of Baghdad.

The general was killed in the Abu Ghraib area, just west of Baghdad, near where security forces have been locked in a months-long standoff with militants who have seized control of the city of Fallujah, according to AFP.

The government lost control of Fallujah and parts of nearby Ramadi in January, and Iraqi forces have so far failed to retake them.

More recently, a jihadist-led offensive overran swathes of four provinces north of Baghdad and more areas in Anbar, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, alarming the international community and heaping pressure on Maliki as he bids for a third term as premier.

General Abdullah Ali is the latest in a series of senior Iraqi officers to be killed by militants and the highest-ranking casualty since a major jihadist-led offensive began on June 9.

Meanwhile, at least seven people including four policemen were killed in northern Baghdad on Monday when a suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives at a checkpoint, police and medical sources said, according to Reuters.

The sources said that 17 people were wounded at the checkpoint in the mainly Shi'ite Kadhmiya district.

Security across Iraq remains very volatile as the government battles Sunni Islamist insurgents who have seized large parts of the north and west of the country over the past few weeks.

On Dec. 29, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near a military convoy in the northern city of Mosul, killing four soldiers, among them a brigadier general, a colonel and a lieutenant colonel.

And five senior officers, including a division commander, were among 15 soldiers killed during an operation against militants in Iraq's Anbar province on Dec. 21.

[With AFP amd Reuters]