Army and police vehicles in front of the mall in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk after it was stormed by security forces to end an hours-long siege that followed an attack involving a car bomb, gunmen and would-be suicide bombers.
BAGHDAD: A group linked to Al Qaeda said it was behind suicide attacks on an Iraqi police intelligence headquarters and shopping mall in the northern city of Kirkuk, the SITE monitoring group said yesterday, citing a communique.
Gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the two sites in Kirkuk, 250km north of Baghdad, late on Wednesday. They killed 11 people and wounded 70, police and medical sources said.
Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed the six-man suicide raid, according to a statement circulated on jihadi forums and social media, SITE said.
ISIL operates on both sides of the porous Iraqi-Syrian border.
Violence in Iraq has intensified alongside the conflict in Syria and is expected to escalate further before a parliamentary election in April next year.
Iraqi police said two suicide bombers armed with sniper rifles entered the shopping complex in Kirkuk late on Wednesday, took control of it and captured around 15 shoppers as hostages.
After a gun battle, one suicide bomber blew himself up and the other was shot dead by Kurdish security forces who took over the operation from local police. One hostage was wounded, police said.
“I was inside my home when there was a big explosion, our house was shaking and the windows shattered,” said a man living next to the mall who gave his name as Abu Ahmed.
He saw several attackers carrying weapons heading towards the centre. “Dozens of women, men and children went out and some of them came to my house,” he said, adding he heard a gun battle which continued into the night.