Clashes between Kurds, Shia militias 'kill six' in Iraq
The clashes broke out late on Saturday and resumed in the morning following a two-hour lull, according to local sources and security officials.
The town is inhabited by a mix of religious and ethnic communities, including Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Shia Turkmen, Christians and Sabaeans.
The fighting has spread to several neighbourhoods of the town, local residents told The New Arab.
"Locals are supporting the Kurdish Peshmerga forces against the Popular Mobilisation," they added.
At least six, including four from the Peshmerga and two from the Popular Mobilisation were killed, and eight others were injured, according to an Iraqi security source.
The dead include a senior commander in the Kurdish forces.
|The dead include a senior commander in the Kurdish forces.|
But Popular Mobilisation commanders said the Peshmerga have been dealing with the Shia Turkmen with a "sectarian mindset", and are seeking to control the entire town to annex it to the Kurdistan region.
"The clashes erupted after the Peshmerga breached an agreement signed between the two sides earlier this year," Haidar Saba, Popular Mobilisation commander, told The New Arab.
The Kurdish presidency has previously denied these accusations, stressing the town falls under Article 140 of the constitution regarding disputed territories.
The violence in Tuz Khurmatu has become a routine occurrence between the armed groups, uncomfortable allies against Islamic State since driving the extremist militants out of towns and villages in the area in 2014.
|The tensions risk further fragmenting Iraq, a major OPEC oil exporter, as it struggles to contain IS|
The violence sparked clashes between the communities in neighbourhoods of the town, security sources told Reuters earlier.
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Fighters launched mortars into densely populated areas and fire rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns at the opposing positions.
There were reports snipers were preventing people from transporting casualties to hospital.
The tensions risk further fragmenting Iraq as it struggles to contain IS.
Efforts to push back the hard-line jihadists have been complicated by sectarian and ethnic rivalries
High-level delegations from both sides arrived in Tuz Khurmatu on Sunday to try to solve the latest dispute as military reinforcements were said to be gathering outside the district, according to Reuters.