TIKRIT, Iraq, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces Friday killed two suicide bombers and were hunting for the third after they tried to attack troops in Iraq's central province of Salahuddin, a local police officer said.
The incident occurred before Thursday midnight when three suicide bombers wearing explosive belts approached the security outposts in Tal al-Thahab area near the town of Balad, 80 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Colonel Mohammed al-Jubouri said.
The troops discovered the attackers and opened heavy fire on them, killing two after blowing up their explosive belts, Jubouri said, adding that the third fled the scene and hid at nearby orchards.
The security forces launched a search operation into the area for the third attacker, Jubouri said.
The predominately Sunni Arab province has been an area for Iraqi security forces and allied Hashd Shaabi units to drive out Islamic State (IS) militants from key cities and towns in the province, including its capital Tikrit, 170 km north of Baghdad.
In a separate incident, a force from the intelligence of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) raided a house of IS group in Baghdad and arrested a wanted IS leader, said Brigadier General Saad Maan, spokesperson of the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
The captured IS leader is believed to be involved in seven terrorist attacks near Baghdad, including roadside bomb attacks on security forces and killing of civilians, Maan said.
On Dec. 9, 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.
However, small groups and individuals of IS militants melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas in Iraq. They carried out attacks from time to time against the security forces and civilians.