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ISIS attacks Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk

Local TV channels aired footage showing black smoke rising over the city as extended bursts of automatic gunfire rang out

Armed militants have attacked police stations and a power station in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The Islamic State group has claimed that  it was behind the attack, claiming that its fighters had broken into the town hall and taken control of a hotel.

According to media reports, multiple explosions rocked the city and gun battles were under way between the militants and security forces. The claim was carried by the Isis-run Aamaq news agency and could not immediately be verified.

Local TV channels aired footage showing black smoke rising over the city as extended bursts of automatic gunfire rang out. However, the governor of Kirkuk, Najmadin Karim, was quoted as saying the militants had not seized any government buildings. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The terrorists launched that attack at government building as Iraqi government and Kurdish forces are making a major push to drive Islamic State militants from Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul.

Kirkuk is an oil-rich city 180 miles (290km) north of Baghdad that is claimed by both Iraq’s central government and the country’s Kurdish region. It has long been a flashpoint for tension and has been the scene of multiple attacks by Islamic State militants.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by US-led coalition support launched a multi-pronged assault this week to retake Mosul and surrounding areas from Islamic State. The operation is the largest undertaken by the Iraqi military since the 2003 US-led invasion.

Iraqi officials said they had advanced as far as the town of Bartella, nine miles (15km) from Mosul’s outskirts, by Thursday.

Iraq authorities have also imposed curfew in Kirkuk “until further notice”, Iraqi media said.

The Beirut-based newspaper al-Sumaria reported that after the dawn attack, police had killed one suicide bomber but three others blew themselves up.

A district police chief, Brig Gen Sarhad Qadir, told the paper that the situation was under control.

It is not yet clear whether anyone other than the bombers has been killed or injured.

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