Baghdad: Shelling by government security forces and clashes in various parts of Fallujah, which has been out of Baghdad’s control for months, killed 15 people Wednesday, a senior doctor said.

The violence erupted just after midnight and continued through to the morning in northern, eastern and southern neighbourhoods of the city, killing 15 people and wounding 40 others, according to Fallujah Hospital’s chief medic Ahmad Shami.

It was unclear how many of the casualties resulted from the shelling, and how many from the clashes.

Security forces have periodically shelled neighbourhoods of Fallujah in recent months, arguing that they are targeting anti-government fighters who are holding the city.

Tribal leaders in the city confirmed the doctor’s account.

“After midnight, shelling first targeted several areas ... and clashes also happened,” said Mohammad Saleh, a leader of the Bijari tribe.

Mahmoud Al Zobaie, a leader of the Zoba tribe, added: “There are many people killed and wounded, and many homes have been damaged because of the shelling.”

Fallujah has been outside of government control since militants overran it and parts of nearby Ramadi, capital of the surrounding province of Anbar, in early January.

Security forces have managed to wrest back control of Ramadi but a stalemate has persisted in Fallujah, which lies just a short drive from the Iraqi capital.