Iraq blames ISIS for Kirkuk intelligence office assault

Several members of the security forces were injured in the first suicide attack in months

A picture taken on September 25, 2017 shows members of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) security forces, affiliated to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, deploying in the streets of the northern city of Kirkuk during the vote on the Kurdish independence on September 25, 2017.
The non-binding vote, initiated by veteran Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, has angered not only Baghdad, following which Iraq's federal parliament demanded that troops be sent to disputed areas in the north controlled by the Kurds since 2003, but also neighbours Turkey and Iran who are concerned it could stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizeable Kurdish minorities. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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Iraq has blamed ISIS for a suicide attack on its intelligence bureau in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, when at least three security force members were wounded.

Authorities said two men – one wearing a vest rigged with explosives and the other a driver – approached the headquarters of the Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Directorate in the Qadisiyah neighbourhood by car. One of the men threw a grenade towards the building and then detonated his vest, the official said.

The other man drove away.

ISIS sleeper cells have stepped up ambushes and attacks across northern Iraq in recent weeks, killing and wounding security personnel.

Although the militant group did not claim responsibility for the attack, an Iraqi intelligence official told The Associated Press that his agency “had knowledge that Daesh would carry out a suicide operation against the intelligence directorate, but we did not know on which day".

Iraqi forces and their international partners managed to beat back ISIS and declare military victory in 2017, although the group has continued to launch attacks across the country.

A US-led mission to eliminate ISIS from the region was established in 2014 after the group overran large parts of northern and western Iraq and proclaimed a "caliphate”.

In recent months, the US began to withdraw its troops from military bases in Iraq, including Kirkuk, in line with a plan to reduce the presence of coalition forces.

At the end of March, the US-led coalition against ISIS said it had completed the handover of the K1 Base in Kirkuk province to the Iraqi army.

Until last month, there were about 7,500 coalition troops in the country, including 5,000 US personnel.