IS gunmen raid police station in Iraq's Samarra

IS gunmen raid police station in Iraq's Samarra
A siege is taking place at a police station in Iraq's city of Samarra after Islamic State group militants stormed the building, officials said.
2 min read
02 January, 2017
Security forces clashed with the militants [AFP]

Clashes have taking place between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State group militants in Samarra on Monday, when gunmen stormed a police station while wearing suicide vests, officials said.

"There was a terror attack on Mutawakil police station, now the Iraqi forces are besieging them," interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan told reporters.

Maan said the attackers were trapped inside the police station and were exchanging fire with the security forces.

Five attackers had already been killed and reinforcements had been deployed, according to a police major from the Salaheddin province.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack in central Samarra, a city 110 kilometres (70 miles) north of Baghdad, via its linked news agency Amaq.

Samarra is home to a major Iraqi security headquarters and to an important Shia shrine where a 2006 bombing kicked off two years of sectarian bloodletting.

Iraqi security officials did not immediately release information on any casualties of Monday's attack among police ranks.

As the global US-led coalition continues to battle IS in its last major Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, the militant group has launched a number of diversionary attacks elsewhere in the country.

Scores were left dead across the capital when militants conducted three attacks across Baghdad just two days into the new year. 

On Saturday, at least 27 people were killed by twin explosions in a busy market area in central Baghdad - in what was the deadliest such attack in the Iraqi capital in two months.

As IS' self-proclaimed caliphate steadily shrinks observers voiced fears that the group, once it definitively loses its status as a land-holding force, could increasingly revert to targeting civilians in Iraq's cities.