Gunmen opened fire at a federal police checkpoint in rural northern Iraq, sparking clashes that killed 13 police, a security official said Sunday. He blamed the attack on Islamic State militants.
The attack late Saturday on the checkpoint in Satiha village in Kirkuk province also wounded five police. The security official said the clashes with the militants lasted for nearly an hour.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
The militant group did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack. But northern Iraq has been a hotspot for IS activity since its territorial defeat in 2017 by Iraqi security forces with assistance from the U.S.-led coalition. Iraqi forces routinely carry out anti-IS operations in the rugged mountainous northern region and the deserts of western Iraq where they are known to be holed up.
IS attacks have abated in recent years but continue in these areas where security forces are often the target of ambushes, raids and roadside bombs.