ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Two died, and others were injured on Tuesday when roadside bombs on the way to a village in Diyala Province ripped through two vehicles.
“Two bombs exploded on the road to Aliyawa village which lies south of Diyala Province’s Khanaqin district,” Kurdistan 24 correspondent Harem Jaff reported from Khanaqin.
“The first one hit the civilian car of a police officer traveling with his wife, and the next one exploded near a police car, taking no casualties, that was attempting to go to the location of the first incident,” he added.
Residents of the village asked for backup and police presence after reports of fire exchanges in the area, claiming they were armed Islamic State (IS) militants.
Once they retreat from a region, IS is known to hide mines and lay explosive traps under roads, in houses, buildings, farmland, yards, and even among children’s toys.
An increase in terrorist activity in the region is causing much distress among the local population, leading some villagers from Diyala to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere after they fought off an IS attack, losing one person.
“The lack of Peshmerga forces in the region have created a security vacuum,” Zahir Tahir, representative of the Khanaqin district in the Diyala Provincial Council, said. He pointed to that as the primary cause of “the increasing number of [IS] attacks in the region.”
“Now, we realize what kind of damage the absence of the Peshmerga after the events of Oct. 16 has caused the people of the region, the Iraqi forces, and the Hashd al-Shaabi,” a high-ranking Iraqi police officer in Diyala told Kurdistan 24.
Despite this, the Iraqi government still carries out operations in efforts to battle IS’ small-scale operations, as they did on Tuesday, capturing four members and burning down three hideouts in a campaign to find perpetrators of attacks in the Kirkuk area.
Diyala is among the contested territories between the central government and the Kurdistan Region that was previously under the protection of Peshmerga forces since 2014 after they cleared it of IS.
However, this changed after Oct. 16 last year when they were forced to withdraw following an attack by Iraqi troops and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias in the aftermath of the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Harem Jaff contributed to this report)