Iraq: Al Qaeda Splinter Group Seizes Mosul

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked parliament to declare a state of emergency after militants seized control of key buildings in the country’s second-largest city.

Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in Mosul after fighters armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers overran the provincial government headquarters and buildings.

An army colonel in the northern city’s the local military command said: “We have lost Mosul this morning. Army and police forces left their positions and ISIL terrorists are in full control.

“It’s a total collapse for the security forces.”

Sky News Arabia sources say around 1,400 prisoners have been released after gunmen torched several police stations in the city, which is a former al Qaeda stronghold.

Residents told the Associated Press detainees set free were seen running in the streets in their yellow jumpsuits.

The insurgents seized the government complex – a key symbol of state authority in what has long been one of the more unstable parts of Iraq – on Monday.

The fighters are believed to be affiliated with an al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is behind many attacks in the country.

The group was known as al Qaeda in Iraq until ties between the two organisations were cut earlier in 2014 following a power struggle.

Witnesses saw the militants hoisting black flags inscribed with the Islamic declaration used by ISIL, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups.

Um Karam, a government employee who lives just over a mile (2km) from the provincial headquarters, said her family decided to flee on Tuesday after hearing about the building’s fall.

“The situation is chaotic inside the city and there is nobody to help us,” the Christian mother of two said, using a nickname because of concern for her safety.

“We are afraid … There is no police or army in Mosul.”

Ali Mahmoud, the media official for Nineveh province, said the fighters were able to overpower the building guards after a brief firefight.

He confirmed that many of the police and army forces had gone by Tuesday.

Provincial governor Atheel al Nujaifi was in a nearby guest house at the time of the attack, but managed to escape unharmed.

In a speech on Monday he urged residents to fight off the attackers.

The violence in Iraq is the worst since the sectarian bloodletting of 2006 and 2007.

ISIL insurgents and their allies retain control of Fallujah and other parts of Anbar province, which neighbours Nineveh province.

The fighters have also launched frequent attacks in the capital, Baghdad, and in other parts of the country.

Several members of the Iraqi security forces were killed last week when insurgents launched an attack on the Sunni-dominated city of Samarra.

They took control of a number of districts before eventually retreating.

Insurgents also occupied a university in Anbar province, taking dozens of hostages before releasing many later on. 15 people remain missing.

There was also an explosion at a funeral in the central city of Baqouba for a Sunni university professor on Tuesday.

That attack has so far claimed 20 lives and left another 28 wounded.

10 June 2014 | 12:34 pm – Source: orange.co.uk
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