Militants killed four soldiers in an attack on an army post in Iraq's north-western province of Kirkuk on Saturday, officials said.
The pre-dawn assault took place at a desert post near Kirkuk, where remnants of the ISIS terrorist group are active. Militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an outlawed group that has waged an insurgency against Turkey, also operate in the area.
The attackers took the soldiers’ weapons and communications equipment before leaving the scene, security sources said.
It was the first such attack in nearly a year. In January, ISIS gunmen broke into a barracks outside the town of Baqouba in the mountainous Al Azim district of Diyala province, where they killed a guard and shot dead 11 soldiers as they slept.
Rakan Saeed Al Jiboury, the governor of Kirkuk, told the Associated Press that the attack was a result of "negligence and lack of care by the security forces”.
He said the assault took place in an area where authority is divided between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, “so there is no co-ordination, and ISIS takes advantage of this”.
ISIS’s territorial control in Iraq and Syria was crushed by a years-long US-backed campaign, but the group continues to stage attacks through sleeper cells that have killed scores of Iraqis and Syrians.
Gen Ali Al Furaiji, commander of the Joint Operations Command in Kirkuk, ordered the arrest of an intelligence officer over the attack, the official Iraq News Agency reported.
The Iraqi military opened an investigation into the attack.
With reporting from agencies