ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Baghdad-appointed Governor of Kirkuk has called on the federal government to allow volunteers to join security forces in the city to help make up for lapses in protective services in the aftermath of a twin bombing on Sunday.
In a press conference following two separate explosions in Kirkuk on Sunday, Rakan al-Jabouri said the attacks were a “desperate attempt by terrorists” to remain relevant as they continue to lose territory they once held and asked Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send military reinforcements to Kirkuk.
The attacks were the first such incidents since the Oct. 16 assault led by Iranian-backed Shia militias and Iraqi forces on the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk. The Governor asked Abadi to “strengthen military units” in the city and allow volunteers to join the provincial police services.
“The counter-terrorism forces have proven their work, but their numbers are insufficient to cover the city in its entirety. Their numbers must be doubled to meet the threats of terrorists,” he said.
Jabouri urged the need for security services to “intensify their efforts” and “prosecute terrorist gangs.” Four people were killed and over 20 injured in the blasts as calls for the security and safety of the province to remain a top priority grew.
Over the weekend, however, Head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council Rebwar Talabani criticized the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia’s recruitment campaigns in the city.
“Shia security authorities spread around Kirkuk are openly recruiting new members and opening the door for volunteers, just as they have previously done in Baghdad, Fallujah, Diyala, and Anbar,” he stated.
Talabani, who is in Erbil, said the neighborhoods have been divvied up between Shia factions within the Hashd al-Shaabi, and asserted Kirkuk was now suffering from a campaign led by the Iranian-backed militia to transform the diverse province into a Shia stronghold.
As of Nov. 2, over 183,000 civilians have been displaced since the attack, most of them Kurds, with 79,000 people having fled the city of Kirkuk according to the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq.
The explosions took place in front of the Hashd al-Shaabi militia offices, a police source told Kurdistan 24. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the two attacks.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany