Clashes between Iraqi Kurds, Turkmen kill 9


Kirkuk / AFP

Kurdish peshmerga forces and Turkmen Shiite paramilitaries were Sunday engaged in clashes that have killed at least nine people in a flashpoint town during the past 24 hours, officials said.
Tuz Khurmatu, part of a swathe of territory claimed by both Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region and Baghdad, has been divided between Turkmen and Kurds since fighting between the two sides last year.
A peshmerga brigadier general and another fighter and two members of Turkmen forces were among the nine people killed on Saturday, said Shallal Abdul Baban, the Kurdish official responsible for the area.
A colonel in the Tuz Khurmatu police gave the same toll.
The fighting began around midnight and continued into Sunday, officials said. Both the peshmerga and the Turkmen fighters, who are part of a militia umbrella organisation called the Hashed al-Shaabi, are battling the IS extremist group.
But Kurdish forces and the Hashed al-Shaabi are vying for influence in some areas, a contest that has led to violence in Tuz Khurmatu.
The fighting last November began as a dispute at a checkpoint that escalated into clashes inside Tuz Khurmatu. Dozens of homes were burned, and the town has been split between Kurdish and Turkmen areas, with neighbourhood minority residents moving back across the ethnic divide.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, and Baghdad turned to the Hashed al-Shaabi, which is dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias, to help stem the extremists’ advance and later push them back. Kurdish forces also battled the extremists in the north, but have largely fought independently of federal troops.

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