UPDATED: Attacks on Iraq gas facility, oil field kill five

AFP , Sunday 31 Jul 2016

Militants assaulted a gas facility and a nearby oil field in north Iraq on Sunday, killing five people in rare attacks inside Kurdish-controlled areas of Kirkuk province, officials said.

Gunmen travelling on motorbikes opened fire on the gas facility's guards, then killed four of its employees and planted multiple bombs before escaping, officials from Iraq's North Oil Company and the Kurdish peshmerga forces said.

Militants also attacked the nearby Bai Hassan oil field, the largest in oil-rich Kirkuk province, killing an engineer and sparking a major fire, officials said.

A colonel in the peshmerga said that security forces killed two suicide bombers at the field while a third detonated explosives, setting oil tanks ablaze, and a fourth was still at large.

Police Brigadier General Sarhad Qader confirmed that three bombers were dead.

The attack killed an engineer and wounded seven other people, according to the peshmerga colonel and a police officer of the same rank.

The Militant-linked Amaq agency, which often carries claims of Islamic State group attacks, said that the assault on Bai Hassan had taken place, but did not attribute it to IS group.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault on the gas facility, and while it may have been carried out by IS group, it is more common for the group's militants to fight to the death in such attacks.

Forces from Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region control part of Kirkuk, while IS group also holds territory in the province.

The militant group overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, sweeping Iraqi security forces aside, though they have since regained significant ground from IS group.

After federal forces retreated, Kurdish troops gained or solidified control over a swathe of northern territory that is claimed by both Baghdad and Kurdistan.

Both Baghdad's forces and Kurdish troops are battling the militants, but they have fought largely independent wars so far.

That will need to change during the battle for Mosul, Iraq's second city located northwest of Kirkuk, as the operation is expected to require both federal and Kurdish forces to take part.

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