"Group of Fire" members arrested for targeting Turkmen party in Kirkuk

"Two suspects were arrested, investigated, and officially confessed to targeting the headquarters of the Iraqi Turkmen Front," said Major General Maan al-Saadi to reporters.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The official in charge of Kirkuk security said on Wednesday that counter-terrorism forces arrested two members of a gang that calls itself "The Group of Fire" who were planning an attack on the main Turkmen party in Iraq.

"Two suspects were arrested, investigated, and officially confessed to targeting the headquarters of the Iraqi Turkmen Front," said Major General Maan al-Saadi to reporters.

Saadi did not disclose the identity of the detainees but said they belonged to an armed organization called The Group of Fire, and that a search was underway, "for a third suspect, who escaped."

This comes at a time when Iraqi forces are preparing a security plan in Kirkuk city and throughout the province to protect residents celebrating Newroz, the Kurdish New Year observed annually on March 21,

Saadi said that forces in Kirkuk, "have begun to implement the security plan."

The oil-rich and ethnically-diverse province of Kirkuk was under the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces since mid-2014, until the military attack and takeover by Iraqi forces and the Shia militias on Oct. 16, following the Kurdistan Region's September referendum on independence.

Since then, the province has been suffering from instability and insecurity, with almost daily violent security incidents, including attacks on Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias.

The Iraqi Turkmen Front is a political movement that aims to represent Iraq's ethnic Turkmen minority, many of whom are from Kirkuk and surrounding areas. The party was founded in Kirkuk in 1995 and is headed by Arshad al-Salihi, a member of parliament in Baghdad.