BAGHDAD/ KIRKUK: At least nine Iraqi federal police officers have been killed while many others injured in a bomb blast near Iraq’s north-central city of Kirkuk, security sources told media.
The sources said those killed on Sunday were traveling in a convoy when the bomb struck.
The blast took place near the village of Safra which lies about 30 km (20 miles) southwest of Kirkuk. Two other officers were critically injured.
A federal police officer told media that “a direct attack with small arms” followed the explosion.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but ISIL (ISIS) militants are active in the area, and Iraqi police officers said that ISIL was involved in the attack, using roadside bombs to target the police force patrolling the area.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has ordered a hunt for the “terrorist elements” who carried out the attack, dispatching the federal police commander to the area for further investigation, his office said in a statement.
Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers from Baghdad, was seized from Kurdish forces by Iraqi security forces in 2017.
The Kurdish Regional Government had taken control of the city after Iraqi forces fled amid the rise of ISIL (ISIS) in the country.
ISIS seized large swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory from 2014, declaring a “caliphate” where they ruled with brutality before their defeat in late 2017 by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led military coalition.
Remnants of the group remain active in several areas of Iraq.
A UN report released in August said the group maintains an underground network of between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters capable of carrying out attacks on both sides of the porous Iraq-Syria border.
The latest incident follows an attack on Wednesday, when a roadside bomb hit a military vehicle, killing three Iraqi soldiers in farmland north of Baghdad, according to the defence ministry. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
In November, another unclaimed attack on a remote northern Iraqi military post killed four soldiers near Kirkuk, according to military sources.
ISIS had earlier claimed responsibility for twin suicide attacks in January 2021 in Baghdad market that left 32 people dead, marking the first such incident in city in over three years. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)