On Sunday afternoon, November 5, twin suicide bomb attacks in Kirkuk city center reportedly killed five people and injured over 20 others. Some reports have indicated the attack targeted a Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) facility - an umbrella organization of militias made up of mainly Shi’a groups - while others have indicated the attack targeted a Shi’a mosque. At least one suicide bomb was detonated on Atlas Street, a busy shopping area of the city.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks but suicide bombings are often attributed to the Islamic State (IS) or other Sunni militant groups.
Terrorist attacks are common across Iraq. Diversionary and retaliatory attacks by IS have become increasingly common as IS loses territory in the country and in neighboring Syria. It is likely that the group will continue to employ asymmetric terrorist tactics with greater frequency, using small cells that can operate within the group's progressively fragmenting leadership structure.
Kirkuk is located outside the constitutionally agreed boundaries of Iraqi Kurdistan (KRI) but the territory has previously been claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Iraqi federal government forces retook control of disputed areas in northern and eastern Iraq, including Kirkuk province, in mid-October.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.