At least 14 people have been killed after militants attacked local government buildings in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
Seven civilians, three soldiers and four militants were killed in the violence in the Iraqi town of Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, on Wednesday, AFP reported.
The violence started after two bombers detonated their explosives-laden vehicles near a police station and a local administrative building in Hawijah.
Militants then targeted the two buildings and a local council building with mortar fire, which was followed by an attack of dozens of gunmen, leading to clashes with soldiers.
A military officer said soldiers are searching for the remaining militants, who fled following the hour-long firefight.
Violence has surged across Iraq in recent months, reaching its highest level since 2008. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that attacks in Iraq aim to “reignite sectarian strife” and divide the country.
According to the United Nations, more than 5,000 people have been killed in acts of violence so far this year in Iraq, 800 of them in August alone with Baghdad Province worst hit.
July was Iraq’s deadliest month in five years with 1,057 people killed and 2,326 wounded in terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed concern about growing violence in Iraq, warning that the new spate of attacks would result in further internal displacement of civilians.
The world body put the number of displaced Iraqis by this year’s bombings and other attacks at about 5,000, with people mostly fleeing from Baghdad into Anbar and Salahuddin provinces.