Iraq's Defense Ministry says gunmen have taken over a small Sunni town north of Baghdad after clashes with security forces.

Thursday's statement says the gunmen have taken control of Suleiman Beg police station and deployed in the streets. The mayor of Toz Khormatu city to which Suleiman Beg is administratively annexed, Shalal Abdool, says security forces have laid siege and sporadic clashes occurred.

On Wednesday, fierce clashes between Iraqi soldiers and the gunmen in the town killed four soldiers and 12 others, including some gunmen. Abdool added that the gunmen suffered casualties on Thursday, but couldn't give numbers. The town is about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Baghdad.

The unrest followed a bloody incident involving soldiers and Sunni protesters on Tuesday that set off fighting in Sunni towns.