Intense house-to-house fighting between insurgents and Iraqi police north of Baghdad killed 43 people, including 24 officers, the U.S. military said Friday. US troops later joined the fight, aiding in a counterattack that left 18 insurgents dead, the military said.
An unknown number of "anti-Iraqi forces" ambushed a police unit based in Baqouba, 60 kilometers northeast of Baghdad at about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday the military said, using its standard term for Sunni insurgents.
Police fought back and US troops nearby were diverted from another mission, assisted by air cover. One Iraqi civilian was also killed, eight insurgents wounded, and 27 others captured, the military said.
The attack marked some of the heaviest fighting in recent days between insurgents and Iraqi security forces, who US commanders have been pressing to take over more responsibility for security, thereby allowing them to begin contemplating U.S. troop withdrawls.