Kirkuk- Energy facilities west of Kirkuk, located in northern Iraq, were made arenas to vicious clashes between ISIS and Peshmerga militants on Sunday.
The clashes came after an attack first launching against the AB2 gas compressor station, about 15 km northwest of Kirkuk, when four gunmen with hand grenades broke through an external door in an attack that left two guards in critical condition.
Assumed ISIS militants then shot dead four employees in a control room inside and planted explosives charges, around five of which went off, the sources said.
Forces from the elite counter-terrorism service stormed the facility, regained control and freed 15 other employees who had hidden in a separate room.
Security sources believe the attackers escaped to the Bai Hassan oil station, 25 km further northwest, the sources said.
Peshmerga commander assigned to the western Kirkuk axis, Kamal Kirkuki told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that “ISIS terror group had struck the AB2 gas compressor station, and were able to break into the station killing four of the employees (two of which are of Arab origins, and the other two are Iraqi Turcomans); a police officer was also wounded .”
After Peshmerga forces arrived at the scene, in cooperation with security forces, the offensive was brought to an end, and the situation put under control, said Kirkuki.
Security sources believe the attackers escaped to the Bai Hassan oil station, 25 km further northwest, sources told Reuters.
There they launched a similar attack, one detonating his explosive vest at an external gate to allow the others to enter. Once inside the facility, two more assailants set off their explosive vests, destroying an oil storage tank.
The fourth assailant was later killed in clashes with security forces. An oil engineer was also killed and six policemen were wounded, security sources said.
The attack forced the suspension of activity at an oil station which had been pumping 55,000 barrels per day to the northern Kurdish region, oil sources said.
It was not clear when operations would return to normal.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces, which have controlled Kirkuk and surrounding areas for two years, were searching nearby villages for militants suspected of involvement in the attacks.
ISIS-backed Amaq news agency said in an online message circulated on Sunday that ISIS fighters had stormed the Bai Hassan facility, but made no mention of the earlier attack.
The group has previously hit oil facilities in the area with explosives, repeatedly targeting oil wells at Khabbaz oilfield southwest of Kirkuk.
The militants, who seized a third of the OPEC producer’s territory in 2014, have lost many areas to an array of Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes but still control the northern city of Mosul, their de facto capital in Iraq.