With 10 days left before the parliamentary elections in Iraq, Iraqi forces have ramped up security campaigns in Kirkuk province to crack down on remaining "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements.
Joint army and Federal Police forces on Tuesday (May 1st) launched a one-day operation targeting ISIS remnants hiding in al-Hawijah, south-western Kirkuk.
Acting on accurate intelligence about the presence of ISIS pockets in al-Hawijah, the joint forces targeted the group's hideouts in the villages of al-Udhaiba and al-Sharifi, and seized weapons and ammunition.
They also destroyed secret tunnels the extremists had dug out to move around undetected.
Local police forces have also arrested seven individuals wanted on terrorism charges over the past two weeks, Kirkuk police chief Brig. Gen. Ali Kamal Abdul Razzaq told Diyaruna.
They were apprehended at checkpoints while trying to enter the city of Kirkuk, he said, adding that they were planning to carry out attacks ahead of the elections.
"The Kirkuk police are co-ordinating their efforts with the Counter Terrorism Service, the Federal Police and the army to maintain stability in the province," Abdul Razzaq said.
"We are all working as one body to secure Kirkuk and deflect any terrorist threat against the people of the province, who are preparing on May 12th to participate in the national elections," he said.
Security campaigns against terror hotspots continue, he said, particularly in the villages and towns of al-Hawijah.
"Once an operation ends, the next one follows suit so as not to give militants any opportunity to catch their breath and regroup," he said.
Security forces are deployed everywhere, he said, noting that election campaigns are proceeding well thanks to these security efforts.
Some 323 polling stations have been opened throughout Kirkuk in preparation for election day.
The stations and their surrounding areas are being heavily guarded to avoid any security breach during the voting process, Abdul Razzaq said.