Kirkuk | Islamic State insurgents today seized a small crude oil station near the northern Iraqi city Kirkuk where 15 employees were working, and explosions in and around the capital Baghdad killed at least nine people. Two officials from the state-run North Oil Co confirmed the militants seized a crude oil separation unit in Khabbaz and said 15 oil workers were missing after the company lost contact with them.
‘We received a call from one of the workers saying dozens of Daesh fighters were surrounding the facility and asking workers to leave the premises. We lost contact and now the workers might be taken hostage,’ an engineer from the North Oil Co told Reuters, using a derogatory acronym for Islamic State.
The radical jihadist movement seized at least four small oilfields when it overran large areas of northern Iraq last summer, and began selling crude oil and gasoline to finance their operations.
Islamic State insurgents attacked regional Kurdish forces southwest of Kirkuk yesterday, seizing some areas including parts of the Khabbaz oilfields. Kurdish peshmerga forces sought to push back Islamic State in further fighting near Khabbaz today, Kurdish military sources said.