ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Multiple unidentified gunmen carried out a twin attack against residents and a Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militia base in southern Kirkuk province late Saturday, killing five militiamen and wounding others, according to local security force members.
The incident occurred close to a football stadium in a village called Imam Zayin al-‘Abidin in the district of Daquq, one security source told Kurdistan 24.
He explained that the gunmen shot an unknown number of civilians playing in the sports arena and soon afterward fired rocket-propelled grenades at a nearby Hashd al-Shaabi headquarters. Health officials said five PMF members were killed, among them teenagers, and several others were injured,
The wounded were transported to the nearest hospital as a large number of security services arrived and surrounded the area. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but the Islamic State is suspected to have been behind it.
Daquq is periodically targeted by the terrorist organization as it is close to rural, rugged terrain that security forces find difficult to effectively control. Such areas are used by the group's militants for hideouts and to regroup and plan attacks on surrounding areas.
On Saturday, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command announced it had launched a new stage of the country’s military campaign to hunt down remnants of the Islamic State in desert areas of the western province of Anbar.
It marks the fourth phase of a campaign dubbed the “Will of Victory,” which has previously been focused on Anbar, areas north of the capital Baghdad, and remote terrain in Diyala and Nineveh provinces.
Iraq announced a military victory over the Islamic State in December 2017, but the group continues to launch insurgent attacks, ambushes, and kidnappings in multiple parts of the country.
Editing by John J. Catherine