IS at­tacks Iraq city of Kirkuk, power plant amid Mo­sul fight

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Is­lamic State mil­i­tants armed with as­sault ri­fles and ex­plo­sives at­tacked tar­gets in and around the north­ern Iraqi city of Kirkuk early Fri­day in an as­sault that ap­peared aimed at di­vert­ing Iraqi se­cu­rity forces from a mas­sive of­fen­sive against the IS-held city of Mo­sul.

At least 11 work­ers, in­clud­ing two Ira­ni­ans, were killed when IS mil­i­tants stormed a power plant north of Kirkuk and then blew them­selves up.

Mul­ti­ple ex­plo­sions mean­while rocked the city, and gun bat­tles were on­go­ing, said wit­nesses in Kirkuk, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity as they were con­cerned for their safety. Much of the fight­ing was cen­tered on a gov­ern­ment com­pound in the city. They said the streets were largely de­serted out of fear of mil­i­tant snipers.

IS said its fight­ers tar­geted the provin­cial head­quar­ters. The claim was car­ried by the IS-run Aa­maq news agency and could not im­me­di­ately be ver­i­fied.

Lo­cal Kur­dish tele­vi­sion chan­nel Ru­daw aired footage show­ing black smoke ris­ing over the city as ex­tended bursts of au­to­matic gun­fire rang out. It quoted Kirkuk Gov. Na­j­madin Karim as say­ing that the mil­i­tants have not seized any gov­ern­ment build­ings.

In the power plant at­tack, which took place in Dibis, a town north of Kirkuk, three IS sui­cide bombers en­tered the fa­cil­ity and took 10 work­ers hostage, said Maj. Ahmed Kader Ali, the Dibis po­lice chief.

The at­tack­ers asked to be taken to the Ira­ni­ans who worked at the plant. One of the work­ers took them to the Ira­ni­ans be­fore es­cap­ing. The mil­i­tants then killed the Ira­ni­ans and the other work­ers, and det­o­nated their ex­plo­sive vests when po­lice ar­rived, Ali said.

Kirkuk is some 170 kilo­me­ters (100 miles) from the Is­lamic State­held city of Mo­sul, where Iraqi forces have been wag­ing a widescale of­fen­sive since Mon­day.

The oil-rich city is some 290 kilo­me­ters (180 miles) north of Bagh­dad and south­east of Mo­sul. It is claimed by both Iraq’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment and the coun­try’s Kur­dish re­gion. Kur­dish forces as­sumed full con­trol of Kirkuk in the sum­mer of 2014, as Iraq’s army and po­lice crum­bled in the face of a light­ning ad­vance by IS.

Later Fri­day, Ru­daw TV said all IS mil­i­tants who took part in the Kirkuk at­tack had been killed ex­cept for two who were holed up in a newly built ho­tel, which was dam­aged in the at­tack and from where they were bat­tling Kur­dish forces.

Kirkuk po­lice com­man­der Brig. Gen. Khat­tab Omer said clashes were still un­der­way, with­out pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails. There was no im­me­di­ate word on ca­su­al­ties among civil­ians or Kur­dish forces in Kirkuk, and the TV re­port could not im­me­di­ately be con­firmed.

Ke­mal Kerkuki, a se­nior com­man­der of Kur­dish pesh­merga forces west of Kirkuk, said the town where his base is lo­cated out­side the city also came un­der at­tack early on Fri­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.