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Iraqi forces on the hunt for Kirkuk sports stadium attackers

By Khalid al-Taie

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Iraqis attend the funeral of the victims of an attack on a football stadium in Daqouq district in southern Kirkuk on August 24th. [Photo posted on the Daqouq al-Aan Facebook page]

Iraqi security forces are on the hunt for the perpetrators of a rocket attack at a sports stadium Saturday night (August 24th) in southern Kirkuk, a local official told Diyaruna Tuesday.

Seven people were killed and eight others were wounded in an attack with rocket-propelled grenades and medium-grade weapons, which targeted a football stadium in Daqouq in Kirkuk province.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Iraqi security forces pointed the finger at the "terrorist gangs" of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).

At 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, a car carrying a group of militants stopped near the al-Ikhaa football stadium in the village of Imam Zein al-Abideen in Daqouq, said Daqouq district mayor Louis al-Obeidi.

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Brothers Ahmed and Mohammed Hassan Hussein, who were among the victims of the August 24th attack on a sports stadium in southern Kirkuk, are pictured here. [Photo posted on the Ahdath Kirkuk al-Aan Facebook page]

"Six gunmen carrying RPGs and medium and light weapons stepped out of the vehicle and started firing three mortar shells at nearby residential areas, causing no casualties or damage," he told Diyaruna.

They then directed their rockets and machine gun fire directly at the players and the fans who were getting ready to leave the stadium, he said.

The attack left four young men and two children dead, including two brothers, he said. Nine other people were wounded, but one of them died of his injuries on Monday, bringing the death toll to seven.

'Security efforts mobilised'

Al-Obeidi blamed ISIS remnants for the attack, saying this represents "yet another crime to be added to their record of terrorist crimes, confirming their level of brutality and abhorrent darkness".

Daqouq district has been enjoying stability and security and "has not witnessed such large-scale terrorist attacks in a long time", he said.

The attack took place several days after federal police forces withdrew from the centre of the district to its surroundings, handing over security to local fighters from the Daqouq mobilisation forces, al-Obeidi said.

Local leaders met with security forces Monday and agreed on a number of security measures, he said, which include increasing the number of checkpoints, manned security posts and night ambushes.

All security efforts have been mobilised to hunt down the perpetrators, he said, especially in the area of Wadi al-Shai near Daqouq, a vast area with hills and valleys that stretches all the way to the Hamreen mountains in Diyala province.

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