Turkmen party official assassinated in latest Kirkuk violence
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – An official from the Turkmen Front Party was assassinated on Tuesday evening in the province of Kirkuk, security sources told Kurdistan 24.
Ala al-Din al-Salhi, a party member of the Turkmen Front, was killed in southern Kirkuk by unknown gunmen, security sources said.
“The attackers fired several shots at Salhi’s head, killing him on the spot, before fleeing to an unknown destination,” a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Kurdistan 24.
Since the military takeover of the province by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias on Oct. 16, 2017, Kirkuk has witnessed an increase in acts of violence and armed conflict targeting civilians and security forces.
Additionally, despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s “final victory” announcement in early December to mark the end of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, the extremist group continues to strike in newly-liberated areas.
Local officials have claimed IS cells have returned to the town of Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk.
Terrorism experts warn the militant group’s threat remains active in the region and the US-led coalition cautioned that militants were moving freely in the desert areas bordering Iraq and would be adopting insurgency tactics in the country.
Kurdish officials have also noted that ongoing tensions between Erbil and Baghdad would contribute to the reemergence of IS or similar groups in Iraq.
The military coordination between Erbil and Baghdad has stopped since the Region held an independence referendum on Sep. 25, 2017, which won overwhelming support for secession from Iraq.
Baghdad refused to recognize the vote and instead responded by imposing collective punitive measures against Kurdistan, including the use of military force in disputed areas.