ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Unidentified gunmen shot dead three Kurdish youths on Sunday in rural parts of Iraq’s disputed Kirkuk province. Two of the victims were brothers, and the third was their cousin.
Local sources told Kurdistan 24 that the incident occurred in an open field in Kirkuk’s Shwan district, an area separating the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Iraq army.
The shooters opened fire on the three men—Hariz and Aram Mustafa, and their cousin Peshawa—while inside their vehicle. The assailants later set the car on fire with the dead victims still inside.
Haji Mustafa, Hariz and Aram’s grieving father, told Kurdistan 24 that the family suspects “ISIS and extremist groups” were behind the killings, and noted that the young men “did not have any [personal] issues with anyone.”
He also explained that the victims were searching for cattle of theirs that had gone missing.
Colonel Luqman Sartki, an officer in the 11th Brigade of the Peshmerga forces told Kurdistan 24 that “it seems that ISIS terrorists are the perpetrators” of the “brutal crime.”
Losing all of its territorial claims in Iraq in late 2017, the Islamic State has seen various periods of resurgence since.
Its fighters have been particularly active in vulnerable tracts of inhospitable land located land in or around territories contested between the federal Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
In recent months, the terrorist organization appears to have taken advantage of several current crises Iraq now faces, including the coronavirus pandemic. The group also exploits the long-standing security gap between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the disputed areas to carry out attacks against civilians and members of the security forces.
On Oct.13, the militaries of Iraq’s federal government and the autonomous Kurdistan Region agreed to establish two joint coordination centers in Erbil and Baghdad and is discussing similar agreements for Kirkuk and other of the nation’s disputed territories.
Editing by Khrush Najari