Five killed as Islamic State IEDs target civilians fleeing Kirkuk

Iraqi citizens fleeing Islamic State-held town of Hawija, Kirkuk

Kirkuk ( Five people died when two explosive devices planted by Islamic State militants exploded near civilians fleeing Kirkuk province, according to DPA.

The agency quoted Anwar al-Assi, chief of the Ebeid tribes of Iraq, saying five civilians were killed and four others were wounded at the Hamreen Mountains region when they were trying to escape Islamic State-held areas in Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk.

Assi said the civilians were trying to reach locations held by the pro-Iraqi government paramilitary groups, al-Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units).

Hawija, Kirkuk (google maps)

Islamic State has been holding areas in southwestern Kirkuk since the group emerged in 2014 to announce a self-styled “Islamic Caliphate” In Iraq. It has executed hundreds of civilians in Kirkuk for collaborating with security forces or attempting to escape those areas.

The Iraqi government is expected to launch an offensive to retake IS-occupied areas in Kirkuk once it is done with eradicating IS from Mosul, the group’s biggest bastion in Iraq where U.S.-backed government troops and allied militias have entered a sixth month of operations seeking to recapture the city.

IS’s reign of terror as well as battles between the group and security forces have so far displaced at least 355.000 civilians. The government says a total of more than four million have been internally displaced since the appearance of IS in 2014.

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