ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Islamic State (IS) fighters kidnapped and executed the chieftain of a village in southwest Kirkuk province on Tuesday, according to a security source and pictured on social media accounts associated with the group.
“A unit from the organization [IS] broke in late last night into Kan’an village from al-Riyad township, and kidnaped the chieftain of the village called Mahjoob Khalf,” said a security source as quoted by al-Sumariya News.
Kan'an is located fifty-five kilometers southwest of the city of Kirkuk.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the IS militants “executed him [Mahjoob Khalf] with a firing squad.”
"IS killed the chief for having aided the security forces in the region and they did not harm any other civilians in the village," a source told Al-Ghad Press.
The security situation in Kirkuk has been tense since the withdrawal of Kurdish Peshmerga following a military takeover of disputed territories by Iraqi forces and Iran-backed militias in response to the Kurdistan Region's September independence referendum.
The Kurdish forces defended the region from IS after the near collapse of the Iraqi forces there after the emergence of the jihadi group in mid-2014.
Iraqi security forces and Shia-dominated Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militias advanced with tanks and heavy artillery, demanding the Peshmerga withdraw from their posts.
IS continues to carry out small-scale attacks across Iraq, nearly six months after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s declaration of “final victory” over the group last December.
During Iraqi parliamentary elections held on May 12, IS fighters launched an attack on Iraqi security forces killing six in the process, but it was unconfirmed whether the attack was related to the vote.
Hoping to counter the efforts of ‘sleeper-cells’ to which the perpetrators of these attacks are thought to belong, security forces continue operations against IS in several provinces within Iraq.
On Sunday, Iraqi troops ambushed and killed five extremists who were preparing an attack on a village in Kirkuk.
In another operation based on intelligence provided by the PMF, police forces launched a successful attack on another village southwest of Kirkuk on Tuesday, killing five senior leaders.
Editing by John J. Catherine