ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An alleged Islamic State bomb late Saturday killed five people who were going to their farm fields in the disputed province of Kirkuk to put out fires that had also been started by the terrorist organization, local media reported.
“An improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in the evening, in the al-Abbasi sub-district of the al-Hawija district of Kirkuk, killing four civilians and wounding two others,” Alsumaria reported, quoting a security source.
One of the injuries seemed to have been fatal as shortly after another source told Kurdistan 24 that five “farmers and firefighters” had died in the incident. It added that 10 others had been injured. All were transported to the nearest hospital in Hawija city.
The victims were attempting to put out a major fire at an agricultural farm, which Islamic State members had set ablaze, the source added. The flames had spread quickly, carried by strong winds in the rural area.
Hours before the incident, local officials told Iraqi media that similar fields had been burned in other parts of the province, south of the capital city of Kirkuk between the towns of Tuz Khurmatu and Bashir.
As the harvesting season begins, Islamic State sleeper cells seem to be employing a new extortion tactic in areas with weak security, demanding “taxes” from farmers or their fields would be torched. So far, they have burned thousands of acres of land.
Baghdad declared a military victory over the Islamic State in December 2017, but in a harsh response to the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum prior in September, Iraqi forces and Iran-backed militias pushed the Peshmerga from disputed territories. Since then, security has deteriorated in many of the areas, with the Islamic State staging regular insurgent attacks.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany