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Gunmen take control of western Iraqi town, tell residents to leave

SULAIMAN BEK, Iraq, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Gunmen seized part of the town of Sulaiman Bek in Iraq Thursday, local officials said.

Militants armed with weapons overran the town center early Thursday morning and called over loudspeakers for residents to leave, local officials told Middle East Online reported.

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The gunmen were in control of the western area of the town and three nearby villages. Clashes have occurred and two police have been wounded.

Last year, 150 militants attacked the town with mortar, automatic weapons and grenades.

Sunni militants set up a checkpoint and executed 14 Shiite truck drivers during the attack.

Sulaiman Bek was also seized in late April, but the attackers left the town after coming to a deal with tribal leaders and the government, MENA said.

In the Anbar province, militants have held the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi for weeks.

Violence in Iraq has reached its highest level since 2008.

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