ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The deteriorating security situation in the disputed district of Khanaqin has forced two more villages to be evacuated entirely, bringing it to a total of six villages in the area to be abandoned in the past three years.
The people of the two villages of Shafiq and Jamel-Beg, after continued insurgent attacks by unknown groups of armed men, fled their homes on Monday.
Osman Manhal, a member of the Shafiq village council, told local media, “Out of a total of 30 households in our village, 27 families evacuated the village on Sunday while the remaining three families left on Monday.”
Manhal explained that residents of the village have been suffering from ongoing terrorist attacks and the use of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) targeting security forces and civilians, notably sinec the military takeover by the Iraqi armed forces in the aftermath of the 2017 Kurdistan Region referendum on independence.
On Oct.31, five armed men dressed as security forces raided a house in Shafiq, killing a young man and kidnapping another. The village of Shafiq is only13 kilometers west of Khaniqin district.
The village of Jamel-Beg was also evacuated on Monday as the few households that were remaining in the village moved out fearing for their safety.
Khanaqin is a disputed territory between Baghdad and Erbil, with a predominantly Kurdish population located in the province of Diyala.
Over the past two years, the number of kidnappings and terrorist activities has dramatically increased. The security situation deteriorated since the attack and military takeover of the region by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias.
Editing by Nadia Riva