ISIS roadside bomb kills civilians fleeing Iraq town

Thousands of people have been fleeing ISIS rule in Hawijah in recent weeks

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Six Iraqi civilians were killed on Monday when a bomb planted by the ISIS group went off as they tried to flee the Hawijah area, security officials said.

Thousands of people have been fleeing ISIS rule in Hawijah, which lies about 220 kilometres (140 miles) north of Baghdad, in recent weeks.

“Six civilians were killed and five wounded by an IED (improvised explosive device),” a colonel in the Kurdish peshmerga forces told AFP.

“It happened during an attempt by families to flee areas southeast of Kirkuk and reach peshmerga positions,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Among them were women and children,” he added.

Other local officials confirmed the information.

Much of the area is littered by bombs and booby traps rigged by ISIS to prevent movements by Iraqi security forces.

The militants have repeatedly tried to prevent an exodus of the population before a government military operation to retake their areas.

In June this year, ISIS fighters opened fire on families trying to slip out of the city of Fallujah as Iraqi security forces prepared to move in.

A provincial official in charge of displaced people, Ammar Sabah, said 650 people who had successfully escaped ISIS areas were taken to camps east of Kirkuk on Sunday.

Peshmerga fighters and allied forces have been tightening the noose around Hawijah and neighbouring villages that ISIS has controlled since June 2014.

More and more civilians have fled Hawijah and its surroundings lately, with Sabah putting the number at 3,000 over the past week alone.

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