IS attacks Iraq city of Kirkuk amid Mosul fight


Associated Press

KIRKUK, Iraq

Islamic State militants armed with assault rifles and explosives attacked targets in and around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk early Friday, in an assault that appeared aimed at diverting Iraqi security forces from a massive offensive against the IS-held city of Mosul.

At least 13 workers, including four Iranians, were killed when IS militants stormed a power plant north of Kirkuk and then blew themselves up.

A TV reporter was killed by a sniper while covering the clashes in Kirkuk city, which were still raging after sundown.

Multiple explosions rocked the city, and gunfire rang out from the area around the provincial headquarters, where the fighting was concentrated. Smoke billowed over the city, and the streets were largely deserted out of fear of militant snipers.

IS said its fighters targeted the provincial headquarters, in a claim carried by its Aamaq news agency.

Three suicide bombers stormed a power plant in the town of Dibis, north of Kirkuk, killing 13 workers, including four Iranian technicians, before blowing themselves up as police arrived, said Maj. Ahmed Kader Ali, the Dibis police chief.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi condemned the Kirkuk assault, which he said killed four Iranians and wounded three others, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Kirkuk, some 180 miles north of Baghdad, is an oil-rich city claimed by both Iraq’s central government and the largely autonomous Kurdish region. Kurdish forces assumed full control of Kirkuk in the summer of 2014, as Iraq’s army and police crumbled in the face of a lightning advance by IS.

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