A group of unidentified gunmen on Sunday attacked a Federal Police headquarters in a village near Kirkuk city, witnesses reported on Sunday.
The latest incident came shortly after local police forces in Kirkuk issued an urgent appeal to all departments and agencies, as well as the Iraqi Forces currently controlling the province, to be on the watch for attacks carried out by sleeper cells belonging to the Islamic State (IS).
Several people were killed in an ambush in late February, and police forces warned the jihadist group was planning to carry out attacks around the disputed territory, which was under the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga Forces until the Oct. 16 military takeover by Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias.
A security source told Kurdistan 24 that a number of gunmen called for an assault on the headquarters of the Federal Police in the village of Farhaniyah, located in the subdistrict of al-Abbasi in Hawija, southwest of the city of Kirkuk. The attack was carried out Sunday evening.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed Iraqi Forces killed at least 8 of the assailants but refused to disclose the number of police casualties.
Lately, IS has stepped up its attack on Iraqi Forces and the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The most recent incident took place last week in the village of Saadouniyah, not far from al-Abbasi, where some 30 members of the PMF were killed in an ambush.
Iraq declared final victory over IS late last year, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned the group was still capable of launching attacks across the country and asked the people to remain vigilant.
The security situation in the oil-rich and ethnically diverse province of Kirkuk has significantly deteriorated since Iraqi troops and the Hashd al-Shaabi took over the area. Local media reports have recently claimed that Iraqi Federal Police forces had pulled out from areas in the disputed province of Kirkuk amid reports of an imminent IS attack.
Source: Kurdistan 24