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Governor Rakan Al Jabouri (C) attends the repatriation ceremony for members of Iraq's federal police members who were killed in suspected Daesh attack, at Kirkuk airport in northern Iraq on December 18, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Baghdad: Suspected militants on motorbikes stormed a village north of Baghdad late Monday and killed eight Iraqi civilians, officials said.

There was no immediate claim for the attack but the village was a focus of resistance to the Daesh group during its lightning advance through swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014.

It came a day after Daesh militants killed nine federal police in an ambush in Kirkuk province further north.

“A group of terrorists on motorbikes attacked the village of Albu Bali from three sides,” the mayor of the district centre Al Khalis, Odai Al Khadran, told Iraq’s official INA news agency.

“The village is inhabited by farmers... dozens of residents mobilised to defend against the terrorist attack,” he said, adding that eight had been killed and three wounded.

An interior ministry official, who asked not to be identified, blamed Daesh for the attack, recalling that villagers had formed a paramilitary group to defend their land against the militants in 2014.

The defence ministry said it had sent a high-ranking delegation to Diyala province “to throw light on the circumstance of the criminal action”.

Daesh militants seized large areas of Iraq and Syria in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” which they ruled with brutality before their defeat in late 2017 by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led military coalition.

Daesh lost its last Syrian bastion, near the Iraqi border, in 2019.

Despite the setbacks, which have left Daesh a shadow of its former self, the group can still call on an underground network of between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters to carry out attacks on both sides of the porous border, a UN report said earlier this year.

Last Wednesday a roadside bomb hit a military vehicle killing three Iraqi soldiers in farmland north of Baghdad, the defence ministry said.