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Middle East

Jihadists seize areas in Iraq's Kirkuk province: police

Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (AP Photo)

KIRKUK, Iraq: Jihadists seized several areas in Iraq's Kirkuk province on Tuesday, a police officer said, after the militants took control of a whole province to its west.

The militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) overran the Hawijah, Zab, Riyadh and Abbasi areas west of the city of Kirkuk, and Rashad and Yankaja to its south, Colonel Ahmed Taha said.

It came after jihadists from the same group seized control of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and the surrounding province of Nineveh earlier on Tuesday.

Nineveh, long a militant stronghold and one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq, shares a border with part of western Kirkuk province, which is located north of Baghdad.

Bloodshed is running at its highest levels since 2006-2007, when tens of thousands were killed in clashes between Iraq's Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority.

The level of violence in Iraq surged last year after an April 23 security forces operation at an anti-government protest camp near Hawijah that sparked clashes in which dozens died, and has continued unabated since.

 

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