Members of the Iraqi federal police forces stand guard at a checkpoint in a street in the capital Baghdad, during tightened security measures, a day after a man identified as the top Daesh group figure in the country was killed in a file picture. Thirteen policemen were killed in an attack by Daesh against a checkpoint near Kirkuk in northern Iraq, medical and security sources said. Image Credit: AFP

Baghdad: Gunmen opened fire at a federal police checkpoint in rural northern Iraq, sparking clashes that killed 13 police, a security official said on Sunday. He blamed the attack on Daesh militants.

The attack late Saturday on the checkpoint in Satiha village in Kirkuk province also wounded five police. The security official said the clashes with the militants lasted for nearly an hour.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to reporters.

The militant group did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack. But northern Iraq has been a hotspot for Daesh activity since its territorial defeat in 2017 by Iraqi security forces with assistance from the US-led coalition. Iraqi forces routinely carry out anti-Daesh operations in the rugged mountainous northern region and the deserts of western Iraq where they are known to be holed up.

Daesh attacks have abated in recent years but continue in these areas where security forces are often the target of ambushes, raids and roadside bombs.