IS attacks Iraq's Ramadi with seven car bombs

Baghdad (AFP) - The Islamic State jihadist group launched a coordinated attack on government-held areas of the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Wednesday, involving seven almost simultaneous suicide car bombs, police said.

At least 10 people were killed and 30 wounded in the attack, according to initial reports by police and hospital sources in the city, capital of Anbar province.

"At around 7:00 am (0400 GMT), IS launched seven attacks with suicide bombers driving Humvees in the areas of Hawz, Malaab, Toi, Albu Faraj and Albu Eitha," police major Mustafa Samir said.

For months, the government has been fighting off IS militants who control most neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city and regularly attack security forces in more central districts.

Police officers said clashes broke out in several areas following the multiple car bomb attack on Wednesday. Mortar rounds were fired on the provincial council headquarters.

Ramadi lies about 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Baghdad and is the capital of the vast Sunni Arab province of Anbar, most of which is under jihadist control.

Pro-IS accounts on social media said a Belgian, a Syrian and a militant from the Caucasus were among the suicide bombers.

Some officials suggested the number of car bombs used in Wednesday's attack may have been even higher but added that IS failed to gain any ground.

"Our brave security forces were ready and had excellent intelligence about the operation," Anbar Governor Sohaib al-Rawi said on social media.

"What happened in Ramadi today is a clear victory for Anbar," he said.

The onslaught on the government-held centre of Ramadi coincides with Baghdad's push to retake the IS stronghold of Tikrit, about 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Baghdad.

Iraqi forces entered Tikrit from the north on Wednesday, marking a new stage in the 10-day-old operation, the largest yet against IS militants since they took over large parts of Iraq nine months ago.

The jihadist group has suffered a string of defeats on the ground, as troops and militia work their way north with backing from Iran.

IS has also been losing territory in northern Iraq, where Kurdish forces backed by US-led air support are slowly reclaiming land lost last summer.