At least 14 Iraqi SWAT forces were killed on Thursday when they entered a house rigged with explosives in the western province of Anbar, where the army is engaged in a near-three month conflict with Sunni militants.
Security and medical sources said more than 20 SWAT entered the house in the provincial capital Ramadi after gunmen left the area. The building then blew up.
Security forces have been fighting insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Ramadi and another city, Falluja, since January.
The arrest of a Sunni lawmaker and the clearing of an anti-government protest camp in December prompted a tribal revolt and allowed ISIL to set up fighting positions within the cities.
The sources said gunmen had likely planted bombs in houses as they left.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has appealed for international support and arms to combat the insurgency, describing it as spillover from the civil war in Syria, which borders Anbar.
But critics of Maliki say the policies of his Shi’ite-led government have alienated the country’s once-dominant Sunni minority, creating the conditions for an insurgency to regain momentum. Last year was Iraq’s bloodiest since sectarian bloodletting began to ease from a peak in 2006-07.