ISIS militants have killed late on Sunday at least 10 people in two separate attacks in Iraq’s northern provinces of Mosul and Kirkuk, police and local officials said.
In a village near the Sunni town of Shirqat, south of Mosul, extremists stormed the house of a tribal sheikh who led a Sunni group that had fought against the ISIS terrorist group, killing him, his son and two guests, police sources said.
ISIS, which had seized control of much of northern Iraq in 2014, lost Shirqat to US-backed Iraqi security forces supported by Sunni tribal fighters in 2016. However, a small number of militants are still operating in the area and are capable of launching sporadic attacks, security officials said.
In the town of Nijana, south of the oil city of Kirkuk, five members of one family were killed by militants who set up a fake security checkpoint on a main road. The family were Shi’ite Turkmens - a father who is an Iraqi soldier, his pregnant wife, his two children and his brother-in-law.
Local police said their five charred corpses were found inside the burned-out car after the militants fled the scene. Two police officers accused ISIS militants of carrying out the attack.
Another passer-by was also killed inside his car during the attack, said police sources.
A total of 91 Iraqi civilians were killed and 208 others were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in February, according to the monthly report issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate, while Anbar Governorate ranked second.
Iraqi security forces launched an operation last month to consolidate control of the Hamrin mountain range near Kirkuk.
Security officials say two groups of insurgents are known to be operating in the area - one formed by remnants of ISIS, the other, known as the “White Banners”, new and little known.
Iraq declared victory in December over ISIS, which had seized control of nearly a third of the country in 2014. However, the group continues to carry out attacks and bombings in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.
Iraqi security officials have warned that they expect a new phase of guerrilla warfare from remaining ISIS adherents.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that his government is seeking weapons to defeat the remnants of ISIS in Iraq.
Abadi made the remarks during his speech at the opening ceremony of the sixth edition of International Defense Exhibition held in the capital Baghdad.
“Terrorism has ended militarily, and we must eliminate its ideologies and its sectarian methodology. The weapons that we need now is not for war, but for peace and reconstruction,” Abadi said.
He also vowed to support Iraqi security forces so they can continue their mission to uproot the sleeper cells of ISIS terrorists.
“Iraq has special needs for its security, and we have expertise in combating terrorism and eliminating it,” the Iraqi prime minister noted.