ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias on Tuesday indiscriminately shelled villages in Tuz Khurmatu (Khurmatu) in southern Kirkuk province, causing fear and panic among the residents, sources said.
The bombardment targeted Dawouda area in east Khurmatu, and the villages of Qom Palk and Qushalan were particularly targeted, leading to the displacement of many families in the area, a villager told Kurdistan 24.
Most of the residents in the area are Kurdish, and the mortar fire was launched at random, causing general fear and panic among the people, Mohammed Fayeq told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday, the spokesperson of the ousted-Mayor of Khurmatu.
He also mentioned that the shelling comes as a recent mortar attack in Khurmatu killed and injured civilians. No group has thus far claimed responsibility for the attack.
The bombardment of those villages is believed to be due to the presence of fighters who call themselves 'The Liberation Army,' made up mostly of individuals from Khurmatu. The group was formed after the town and Kirkuk province fell to the Iraqi forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi militias on Oct. 16.
Unconfirmed reports state the villages were also shelled by Iraqi aircrafts, but Kurdistan 24 could not confirm the claims.
Kurdistan 24 tried to get in touch with Hashd al-Shaabi and local forces in Khurmatu regarding the incident, but they refused to comment.
Khurmatu is one of many towns which continue to suffer from the instability and insecurity that followed the Oct. 16 attacks. Dozens of thousands of people have been displaced, and thousands of houses have been looted, burnt, and destroyed according to local officials.
Editing by Nadia Riva