Hawija (IraqiNews.com) Four Islamic State militants were killed and injured in a bomb blast, southwest of Kirkuk, a security source said.
“Unknown persons attacked on Thursday a vehicle for Islamic State militants in al-Isslaniya village in Hawija town, southwest of Kirkuk,” an anonymous security source told AlSumaria News.
A leader in charge of security affairs and two of his companions were killed, while a fourth was injured by a hand grenade thrown by the unknown elements, the source added.
Hawija, located 55 KM west of Kirkuk, has been held by IS since mid-2014, when the group emerged to proclaim an Islamic “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. The group executed dozens of civilians and security members there, forcing thousands to flee homes.
In May, news reports quoted sources as saying that the extremist group opened alternative headquarters for its so-called “Nineveh State, “Dijlah State”, “Salahuddin State” and “Diyala State” in Hawija.
IS still holds three towns in western Anbar close to the borders with Syria, in addition to a few areas in Salahuddin, Diyala and Kirkuk. The Iraqi government is expected to aim at those strongholds once the Mosul battle is concluded.
Dozens of residents from Hawija and the regions in its vicinity escape to Kirkuk province on a daily basis. Despite the risky routes to the freed regions, the civilians prefer death to staying under IS control.