ISIS ambushes villagers after setting fire to crops in disputed Kirkuk town
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish youth was killed and several more were injured by Islamic State militants in Kirkuk’s Daquq district on Wednesday after trying to extinguish a fire burning hundreds through their wheat fields, according to local security sources.
Late at night, a number of Islamic State militants infiltrated the village of Haftaghar, 35 kilometers south of Kirkuk city, and set fire to crops, a security source in the area told Kurdistan 24 Thursday morning.
As flames rose from the fields, farmers in the area rushed to contain and extinguish the fire but were ambushed by the jihadist group, the source added.
“The militants opened fire on farmers and those trying to extinguish the fire,” the source stated.
The victims were soon transferred to Daquq Hospital. “One farmer was killed and nine more were injured,” a medical source from the hospital told Kurdistan 24.
In an official statement, Iraq’s Security Media Cell reported that people from the village clashed with armed militants but did not mention whether there had been casualties on the Islamic State’s side.
The statement also confirmed the militants set fire to the crops.
Other Kurdish Kakai residents in the villages of Annana, Arab Koyi, and Ali Sarayni, also reported to Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday night that their fields had been set ablaze by an unknown group.
“We reached out to Iraqi authorities in the area, but they couldn’t help. All we could do was watch our crops burn from far away. We did not dare go extinguish the fire as we suspected roadside bombs were present, much like those who recently killed other farmers,” one man from Ali Sarayni told Kurdistan 24.
Over the past few months, the jihadist group has repeatedly claimed responsibility for the burning of wheat fields and farms in many parts of Iraq and Syria.
Residents of Kirkuk and Makhmour have been raising alarm bells in the past few months over the presence of Islamic State militants demanding villagers pay taxes or see their crops and livelihoods burn down.
Although Iraq declared the military defeat of the Islamic State in December 2017, the terrorist group continues to carry out insurgency-style attacks in formerly liberated areas, like Mosul, as well as even places it never controlled, like the nation’s capital of Baghdad.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Soran Kamaran)