Iraq gunmen launch deadly ambush

Gunmen have killed at least 20 people in an ambush to the north-east of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, officials say.

Initial reports say the victims include policemen and Sunni Arab fighters who oppose al-Qaeda.

The attack took place in a village close to the city of Baquba, in Diyala province, police said.

The area surrounding the village is a long-standing al-Qaeda stronghold, an Iraqi security official told the AFP news agency.

The official said that the ambush happened at about 1530 local time (1230 GMT) in the village of Dulaimat.

He said the policemen and Arab fighters had gathered in the village when they were ambushed.

The official said 12 policemen and eight fighters were killed, although the figure has not been verified.

Doctor Ahmed Fuad, of Baquba hospital, told AFP that medics had received 20 dead.

“The bodies are riddled with bullets,” he said.

Diyala has often been a hotbed of the Sunni insurgency since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

However, since September 2006 about 100,000 former anti-US Sunni Arab insurgents have joined so-called Awakening Councils, receiving salaries from the US.

Correspondents say the arrangements have made a huge difference to the security situation in Iraq.

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