The tension in two villages of Diyala province northeast of Baghdad on Tuesday and Wednesday has put the entire province on alert as more than 23 civilians were killed and tens were injured while investigations are ongoing.
Unidentified gunmen attack the village of Rashad in Miqdadiya (Sharaban in Kurdish) district northeast of Diyala province around 8 pm (Baghdad time).
"A group of young men in a poultry farm were killed in an attack by gunmen. Later when the villagers in al-Rashad were informed about the incident, decided to rescue the young laborers yet they fell into an ambush," said Adnan al-Timimi, head of Miqdadiya provincial council.
Totally 13 people were killed and seven were injured, he added.
The incident has generated sympathy and senior Iraqi leaders condemned the attacks and called for investigations.
"We stand firm on our pledge to chase terrorists inside & outside Iraq. The Miqdadiya crime will not go unpunished," the Iraqi PM tweeted Wednesday. "Their heinous crimes strengthen our determination to uproot them from Mesopotamia."
He assigned the security commanders to restore stability in the region and thoroughly investigate the fatal attacks.
The attack led to tension and fueled retaliation
"Last night, Daesh terrorists stormed Rashad village. 13 people were killed and seven were injured. All the victims and the villagers are members of Tamim tribe and Shiite sect. This event led to more tension and instigated retaliation," said a senior source in Diyala police command.
Joint operations command accused the Isalmic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS as perpetrator of the attack against the village of Rashad without declaring any further details.
"It seems that Daesh has infiltrated into Rashad village from neighbor Nahri Imam village which is only 3 kilometers away as they have been seen there previously," head of Miqdadiya provincial council added.
Residents of Nahir Imam are Sunni Arabs.
Footage of burial of civilians killed in al-Rashad village
Last September, 13 policemen, soldiers and fighters were killed and more than 8 were injured in separate attacks and by explosive devices planted by militants of Islamic state in Iraq and Syria ISIS in the provinces of Kirkuk, Ninawa and Salahaddin, several sources told KirkukNow.
Back in 2014, ISIS took over almost one third of Iraqi territories. End of 2017, the Iraqi government declared victory and defeat of IS yet a report by the United Nations UN published early this year estimated around 10,000 Daesh fighters remain active across Iraq and Syria
IS militants are regrouping in the rural areas of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil. They are targeting Iraqi forces and civilians in the suburbs of Diyla, Kirkuk Ninawa, Salahaddin and Erbil, leaving tens of casualties and causing material damage to power towers, oil wells, houses, cattle, orchards and vehicles of the villagers.
"Relatives of the Rashad victims were furious and angrily storm the village of Nahir Imam. They kill nine villagers and set fire to houses and vehicles," Diyala police source added.
The Iraqi government and the security forces have not referred in their statements to the counter attacks by Rashad villagers against their neighbors.
"About 1 am, a group of gunmen from Rahsad village headed to our village and killed a number of people including four members of our family and one of them was 15 years old," a relative of the victims anonymously told KirkukNow for security reasons.
"They have burnt houses and cars. The rest of the villagers flee to save their families," he added.
The Sunni endowment in Iraq condemned the attacks targeted al-Rahsad village in a statement and called for immediate investigations to find out the gaps and the reasons behind the incident yet it has not refered to the revenge attacks against Nahir Imam.
Relatives of al-Rashad victims were furious and angrily attacked the village of Nahir Imam
Sheikh Ibrahim al-Tamimi, a community leader of Tamim tribe said the relatives of Rashad victims attacked Nahir Imam as a reaction because "Daesh is active there and several commanders of Daesh and al-Qaeda were from that village," yet he shared no proof or documents.
The Iraqi PM has assigned the Iraqi security forces ISF to lead military operations to eliminate ISIS remnants in the region.
The ISF have held several meeting yet so far have not declared any further developments about the tensions in Miqdadiya district northeast of Baghdad.
"We blame the security forces of Diyala for being unaccountable in protection of the civilians which might lead to sectarian feud in Diyala and generate undesired accidents," Ibrahim al-Timimi added.
Diyala province is a majority Sunni Arab province, east of Baghdad, on the border with Iran, and home to 1.2 million people.