Middle east

Iraq foils attacks targeting markets in Kirkuk during Eid al-Fitr

Iraqi authorities thwarted an ISIS plot to attack markets in Kirkuk during Eid al-Fitr, amid fears that the group’s cells will resume operations to carry out major attacks against civilians.

On Saturday, the National Security Agency announced that it foiled a terrorist plan to target Kirkuk markets. In a press statement carried by the Iraqi News Agency (INA), the agency said that “a quality operation and field and intelligence efforts enabled National Security Agency units in Kirkuk province to overthrow two ISIS terrorists, including a prominent element known as Abu Dujana”.

“The arrests were made based on judicial warrants less than hours after they targeted a local police post in the province,” he said. “During the course of interrogation, the two terrorists confessed that they wanted to target citizens and security forces in different areas of the province in the coming days with the aim of destabilizing security and creating a state of terror and chaos by launching a series of bombings in public markets crowded with citizens”.

“Abu Dujana”, who recently renewed his allegiance to ISIS terrorist gangs, had previously detonated an improvised explosive device targeting police patrols, and targeted one of their vehicles with a hand grenade, killing one of them, in addition to being in charge of opening a terrorist detachment in the Laylan sub-district of Kirkuk, he said.

“The statements of the two defendants have been duly recorded and were referred to the competent judicial authorities to receive their just punishment in accordance with the law,” the agency said.

Iraqi forces, supported by members of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMF), occasionally carry out combing operations in the western provinces to pursue ISIS elements, which lost large areas in Iraq and Syria and suffered a defeat in 2017.

Iraqi officials said ISIS activities were concentrated at a logistics theater in Anbar (west), Nineveh and Mosul (north) and an operating theater including Kirkuk (north), Diyala (northeast), Salaheddin (north) and Baghdad.

Last month, an Iraqi official said IS had between 400 and 500 fighters in Iraq, while the UN Security Council said in a report published in February that the group had “between 5,000 and 7,000 members and supporters spread between Iraq and Syria, about half of whom are fighters”.

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