IS kidnaps 63 shepherds and farmers, and 15 oil workers after temporarily seizing an oil facility near Kirkuk in northern Iraq
Baghdad: Islamic State (IS) militants kidnapped 78 people on Saturday in northern Iraq, including 15 workers from a state oil company in Kirkuk, a city in northern Iraq, officials said. Meanwhile, Kurdish troops freed seven villages in the area, a security source said.
Iraqi mourners carry the coffin of a victim of the market bombing in Baghdad on Friday. PIC/AFP
The militant group kidnapped 63 shepherds and farmers, most of them members of the Jabouri tribe and residents of towns located west of Tikrit, about 250 km north of Baghdad.
The oil workers were taken on Friday when the IS militants attacked the oil facility of Khubbaz, some 25 km southwest of Kirkuk. Militants stormed the facility, forcing the Kurdish security force, known as Peshmerga, to withdraw about three km away from the facility and then left the workers behind.
Two hours later, the Peshmerga retook control of the facility, but the 15 workers, who are affiliated to the Iraqi North Oil Company, were not found, the source said.
On Saturday, sporadic clashes with heavy machine guns and mortar rounds continued in the area near the oil facility, while the Peshmerga, backed by the US-led coalition, managed to free seven villages in the area from the IS militants, the source added.
The IS took advantage of bad weather to launch a broad offensive on Kirkuk but were turned back by Kurdish forces, who in just a few hours recovered the areas seized by the jihadis. The clashes left dozens of IS fighters dead, while eight Kurdish forces, including a general, were killed and 50 others were wounded. The security situation in Iraq began to drastically deteriorate on June 10, 2014, when bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and the IS group.
Islamic State militants have released a video saying that the group intends to invade Saudi Arabia while the kingdom’s throne is changing hands. According to Fox News, Saudi militants who have joined the IS group in Iraq and Syria issued the statement. Experts said that the terror threat shows the organisation’s desire to annex the wealthiest Middle East nation.