Shelling in Fallujah, a town near Baghdad held by anti-government fighters, killed four people, officials said Thursday, as Barack Obama pressed “political measures” along with security operations to fight militancy.

But with an election looming in April, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has taken a hard line and trumpeted assaults on militants, with security forces announcing the killing of more than 50 fighters in recent air strikes amid ongoing efforts to retake areas of another city partly out of government control.

Several neighbourhoods in south Fallujah were hit by shelling late Wednesday, residents of the city told AFP, with four people killed and 18 others wounded, according to Dr. Ahmed Shami from the city’s main hospital.