This latest intrusion comes just hours after Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) “sleeper cells” launched an attack on government buildings in the city that sparked clashes with security forces, and also as Iraqi forces continue their offensive on the IS stronghold of Mosul.
“It was expected that ISIS sleeper cells would make a move one day in Kirkuk now that the Mosul offensive has started and they want to boost their own morale this way,” Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim told Rudaw earlier on Friday.
“Some of [the militants] have hidden themselves inside mosques and tall buildings and try to shoot as snipers, but our forces are in control and in places where escalations were feared it was all controlled. Strong forces combined of security, police, and anti-terrorism are all inside Kirkuk today,” he said.
“They were sleeper cells…many women and children fled to Kirkuk as refugees and it is possible that some militants had come with them,” Kiruk added, referring to the attackers.
The city’s police chief and governor have called on residents to stay in their homes until the situation is under control.