(BAGHDAD) — For the second time in a week, al Qaeda attempted to show the Iraqi government on Thursday that it is determined to unravel its fragile democracy.
Militants and local security forces engaged in a bloody clash in Diyala Province, at one time an al Qaeda stronghold. There were reports of five police officers and seven enemy fighters killed.
The Iraqis disputed a report that a helicopter was shot down, saying it had only been damaged.
Still, al Qaeda is trying to prove itself a force to be reckoned with seven months after all U.S. troops were pulled out of Iraq, leaving security responsibilities to the national army and police.
Last Monday, 117 people were killed in a series of coordinated attacks in Baghdad and north of the capital that al Qaeda in Iraq took credit for. Its leader, Abu Bakir al Baghdadi, said his group would not stop until it retook areas ceded to coalition forces before their withdrawal.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has also announced that it would take part in the ongoing conflict in Syria to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN
Samantha Beech, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN