IS 'sleeper cell' launches surprise attack on Kirkuk, Iraq

IS 'sleeper cell' launches surprise attack on Kirkuk, Iraq
Suicide bombers targeted government buildings and a power plant, killing at least 16 people, as Iraqi forces advance on the militants' stronghold of Mosul.
2 min read
21 October, 2016

Kirkuk IS suicide bomber

Suicide bombers infiltrated the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, occupying buildings and killing 16 people in a dawn attack on Friday.

Intense clashes erupted in the Kurdish-controlled city after gunmen in suicide vests attacked buildings including a police station, mosque and hotel and stormed a power plant.

The attack comes as Iraqi forces advance on Mosul, IS' last bastion in the country.

"Three suicide bombers attacked the power plant at around 6:00am (0300 GMT), killing 12 Iraqi administrators and engineers and four Iranian technicians," Dibis mayor Abdullah Nureddin al-Salehi told AFP.

The power plant near Dibis, a town about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Kirkuk, was being built by an Iranian company.

A police lieutenant colonel confirmed the casualty toll.

The mayor said the attack led to clashes with security forces, who killed one of the bombers before he detonated his vest. The other two blew themselves up once they were surrounded, he said.

Hours earlier, a team of suicide bombers armed with rifles attacked multiple locations in Kirkuk.

A Kurdish intelligence officer said four suicide bombers attacked the main police headquarters at around 3.00am (2400 GMT Thursday).

"The security forces managed to shoot one of them dead, the other three blew themselves up," he said.

Several other targets in the south of the city were attacked by IS militants, sparking intense clashes with security forces that were still ongoing five hours later.

IS claimed the attacks in online statements.

A Kirkuk official said that a curfew was imposed on the city "until further notice".