Iraqi officials say IS militants have killed 12 civilians

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BAGHDAD – Islamic State militants have killed 12 civilians and wounded at least six others in two separate attacks in Iraq, apparently taking advantage of a sandstorm that has rapidly reduced visibility across the country, security officials said Tuesday.

The attacks took place in Kirkuk and Diyala provinces on Monday evening, where farmers caught fire while harvesting their crops.

The Iraqi Security Media Cell said in a statement that six civilians were killed in the attack on the village of Sami Assi, south of Kirkuk. The Kurdish news network Rudao said that after the killings, Iraqi federal police forces arrived at the scene and launched a surprise attack, killing three policemen.

Earlier, IS carried out an attack in the town of Gulala, killing six residents, two Iraqi security officials said.

Sunni extremist groups have claimed responsibility for Monday night’s Kirkuk attack, claiming they killed five Shiites on their farm in the al-Rashad area of ‚Äč‚ÄčKirkuk and set fire to five vehicles. It said its fighters clashed with an auxiliary unit of the federal police and destroyed one of their vehicles.

In 2014, IS occupied large parts of Iraq and Syria and declared a self-styled Islamic caliphate. The group was defeated regionally in 2017 after years of fighting led by local forces and the US-led International Coalition. But it continues to hit-and-run attacks through slipper cells in both countries.

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