Armed fighters stormed a university in Iraq's restive Anbar province Saturday, briefly taking students hostage before withdrawing from the school amid gunfire, officials and witnesses said.
The identity of the assailants was not confirmed, but Ramadi is one of two cities in Anbar that were overrun at the start of the year by tribal and Sunni armed groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Shias are considered apostates by Sunni armed groups, whose resurgence is blamed by the Shia-led government on the increasingly sectarian war in neighboring Syria.
The number of hostages held was not immediately clear, with some sources saying there were hundreds and others reporting dozens.
It was the third brazen offensive in the last three days by armed fighters who have regained ground in Iraq over the past year, and this week overran districts in two other cities.
While shelling and gunbattles continue between the militants and government-allied forces, the school had been largely left alone while civilians fled the violence.
After fighting their way past guards overnight, killing three, the gunmen broke into Anbar University in the provincial capital, Ramadi, parts of which have been held by anti-government armed groups since the start of the year.