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Iraq: At least nine police killed in Islamic State attack

Police sources say bomb and small-arms attack took place near city of Kirkuk in north of country
Iraqi security forces inspect the scene of a twin suicide attack in Kirkuk city on 5 November 2017 (AFP)

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the killing of at least nine Iraqi federal policemen on Sunday in a bomb attack on their convoy near the oil city of Kirkuk, the militant group said on its Telegram channel.

The blast occurred near the village of Safra, some 30km (20 miles) southwest of Kirkuk in the Kurdistan region, two security sources told Reuters, adding that two other policemen were critically wounded.

Police and government sources told AFP that a bomb blast initially targeted a truck transporting the men. 

'An assailant has been killed, and we are looking for the others'

- Iraq federal police officer

It was followed by "a direct attack with small arms", near the village of Chalal al-Matar, a federal police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"An assailant has been killed, and we are looking for the others," the officer said, adding that two policemen were also wounded in the attack.

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In Baghdad, an interior ministry official confirmed the attack, saying seven police, including one officer, were killed.

IS seized large parts of Iraqi and Syrian territory from 2014, declaring a "caliphate" where they ruled with brutality before the militants' defeat in late 2017 by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led military coalition.

The militant group lost its last Syrian bastion, near the Iraqi border, in 2019, but IS remnants remain active in several areas of Iraq.

The US-led anti-IS coalition continued a combat role in Iraq until December last year, but roughly 2,500 American soldiers remain in the country as trainers.

Ongoing operations

Baghdad's security forces continue to carry out counter-terrorism operations against the militant group, and the deaths of IS fighters in air strikes and raids are regularly announced.

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Despite the setbacks that have left IS a shadow of its former self, the group can still call on an underground network of between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters to carry out attacks on both sides of the porous Iraqi-Syrian border, according to a UN report released this year.

On Wednesday, a roadside bomb that hit a military vehicle killed three Iraqi soldiers in farmland north of Baghdad, the defence ministry said.

There was no immediate claim for the bombing in a known hotspot of IS sleeper cells.

Last month a machine-gun attack on a remote northern Iraqi military post killed four soldiers near Kirkuk, a military source said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In January 2021, IS claimed responsibility for a twin suicide attack at a Baghdad market that killed 32 people, the first such assault in the city for more than three years

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