Posted On October 23, 2016 By In World And 317 Views

46 dead as Kirkuk battle continues

Iraqi Security forces battled for a second day on Saturday with Islamic State (IS) group gunmen who infiltrated Kirkuk in a brazen raid that rattled Iraq as it ramped up an offensive to retake Mosul. A toxic cloud released by a fire IS militants started at a sulphur plant south of Mosul earlier this week killed at least two civilians and forced some U.S. service members to wear masks. A day after the shock attack on the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk, jihadist snipers and suspected suicide bombers were still at large, prompting Baghdad to send reinforcements. Special counter-terrorism and intelligence units were hunting down some of the dozens of IS fighters who stormed public buildings early on Friday. “We have 46 dead and 133 wounded, most of them members of the security services, as result of the clashes with Daesh (IS),” an interior ministry brigadier general told AFP. The toll was confirmed by a source at the Kirkuk health directorate, which called for blood donations to assist with the emergency. The Kirkuk police chief said 48 jihadist attackers had been killed so far and several others wounded, including a Libyan believed to be among the raid’s leaders. “The security forces control the situation now but there are still pockets of jihadists in some southern and eastern neighbourhoods,” Brigadier General Khattab Omar Aref told AFP. The large-scale “inghimasi” attack, a term for jihadist operations in which gunmen, often wearing suicide vests, intend to sow chaos and fight to the death rather than achieve any military goal, caught Kirkuk off guard. The large city, which lies in an oil-producing region around 240 km north of Baghdad, woke up on Friday to find jihadists roaming the streets of several neighbourhoods. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced late Friday that he was sending reinforcements to Kirkuk, but there was no sign of any major impact on operations around Mosul. Pentagon chief Ashton Carter arrived in Iraq on Saturday to review the offensive, which his country and around 60 other nations support. Mr. Carter had been expected to attempt to convince the government to lift its opposition to the participation of Turkish forces, who have a base north of Mosul. But Mr. Abadi eiterated his rejection of Turkish participation in the offensive, saying that “this is something the Iraqis will handle”.

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