Peshmerga guard a municipality building in Qaratapa. Rudaw photo
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region - In a surprise attack, ISIS militants stormed a village in the town of Qaratapa in Diyala province on Monday, briefly controlling it and later kidnapping villagers.
Local official Salah Baban told Rudaw that a number of ISIS militants “captured Tapada village between Golalewa and Qaratapa towns on Hamrin Lake, kidnapping two villagers.”
An estimated 200 ISIS militants are believed to be present in the region, he noted.
“Security forces in the area are on alert as ISIS militants have increased their movements in the area,” he added.
The whereabouts of the hostages is unknown.
“The reason why their number is increasing is security vacuum in the Iraqi army-controlled territories because ISIS is easily moving between Hawija and Hamrin Lake,” Baban explained.
Security officials believe the same militants three nights before entered Saed Saad village near the Hamrin Lake.
Fighting has been reported several times in the past between Peshmerga and ISIS militants in Qaratapa, as the group was trying to capture the town but faced stiff resistance from the Peshmerga and residents.
Qaratapa is a multiethnic town in the Khanaqin district, northern Diyala province. It has a population of 43,000 and most of the local government is run by Kurds.
As a military offensive against ISIS in Mosul approaches its final days, the group is increasing attacks in Diyala province, where militants recently attacked Peshmerga forces in the city of Tuz Khurmatu.