ISIS claims responsibility for Iraq attack that killed nine police officers

Two others in critical condition after attack on convoy near Kirkuk

Iraqi police officers arrange the bodies of their colleagues on a plane at Kirkuk airport. AFP
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ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed nine police officers in Iraq's Kirkuk province on Sunday.

The extremist group said on Telegram that it “detonated an explosive device then attacked [police] with machine guns and hand grenades”.

The bomb struck a police convoy on Sunday in Riyadh district, near the village of Al Safra that lies about 30km south-west of the eponymous provincial capital, police sources told Reuters.

After the attack, military spokesman Maj Gen Yehia Rasool said one “terrorist was killed and another wounded” during an ambush. One more suspect remains at large, he said.

The bomb was followed by a “direct attack with small arms”, a police officer told AFP.

A police major and several of his colleagues were killed in the attack, said Maj Gen Rasool.

Kirkuk Governor Rakan Al Jubouri, who is also chairman of the Supreme Security Committee, called for an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers for National Security.

He said the attack would “not go unnoticed”, with an “immediate retaliation” expected from security forces.

Mr Al Jabouri called on units to be deployed to vulnerable and “empty” areas, referring to territory in a security vacuum in disputed areas in northern Iraq that are void of Kurdish and federal security forces.

The bombing comes a few days after three police officers and a civilian were killed in Tarmiyah district, north of Baghdad, in twin roadside bombs blamed on ISIS. The district is often attacked by the extremists.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani ordered roads to be inspected and an investigation to be opened into the attack, said Mr Rasool.

ISIS routinely carries out attacks against police and other security forces in Iraq.

Riyadh district has been attacked several times by militants. The district is close to the Hamrin mountains that have sheltered remnants of the group since its defeat in Mosul in 2017.

ISIS has taken advantage of the security vacuum in northern Iraq, often attacking security forces and villagers.

Counter-terrorism raids are often conducted in Kirkuk and Diyala provinces.

Several policemen were killed in string of attacks in the district in August.

Four Iraqi soldiers were killed in an attack on a desert outpost in Kirkuk last month.

ISIS members have also been arrested in urban areas, including in the Kurdish north, and in the city of Sulaymaniyah.

Updated: December 19, 2022, 7:55 AM