Middle East

Girl killed, eight people hurt in Iraqi airstrike

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter stands on his position behind dirt barriers built along the front line with militants from the Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), in Mariam Bek village, between the northern cities of Tikrit and Kirkuk June 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

BAGHDAD: A 12-year-old girl has been killed and eight other civilians wounded in an Iraqi airstrike on a Kurdish-held town in Iraq's northern province of Salahuddin, a Kurdish security forces official said.

Jabbar Yawar, secretary general of the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, told Reuters that the strike occurred Sunday when military planes and helicopters targeted "a group of civilian residential buildings in the heart" of the town of Tuz Khurmato.

Iraqi government forces are battling Sunni Islamist insurgents led by an ultra-radical group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in the area.

The Shiite-led government in Baghdad said that it would "clarify" the details of the incident at a briefing Monday.

The insurgents' rapid seizure of large swath of northern and western Iraq over the past month has stirred international alarm over the possible disintegration of Iraq.

The Kurds, who run their own autonomous region in northern Iraq, have taken advantage of the chaos to expand their territory by as much as 40 percent, including the oilfields and city of Kirkuk, which they claim as their national capital.

Tuz Khurmato, which lies 88 km south of Kirkuk, was also seized by the Peshmerga last month after Iraq's army withdrew before the insurgents' offensive. The insurgents have since clashed with the Peshmerga and Turkmen militia in the area around Tuz Khurmato.

The overall security situation across Iraq remains very tense. Five people were killed and 16 wounded Sunday night in a bomb blast at a cafe in the Washash district of northwestern Baghdad, police and medics said.





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