Photographer killed covering north Iraq clashes

A news photographer was killed while covering fighting between Kurdish security forces and jihadists in northern Iraq on Thursday, medical and security sources said.

Kamran Najm Ibrahim died and 14 Kurdish security personnel were wounded in the clashes west of the oil city of Kirkuk, where the militants have seized a string of mainly Sunni Arab towns in the ethnically divided province.

Ibrahim, a well-known freelance photographer, was the first journalist to lose his life covering a major offensive spearheaded by jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which began late on Monday.

The militants have overrun a large swathe of northern and north-central Iraq, including second city Mosul.

Iraq is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, and comes in for frequent criticism from media watchdogs.

Kurdish security forces, known as peshmerga, took control of Kirkuk city on Thursday after soldiers of the Iraqi army quit their posts, officials said.

Kurdish leaders have long laid claim to Kirkuk and a swathe of territory from Iraq's eastern border with Iran to its western border with Syria that they want to incorporate in their autonomous region in the north.

The militant offensive has cleared the way for the Kurds to take control of the disputed areas that Baghdad has long opposed them adding to their autonomous region.

But moving into the disputed areas has put Kurdish forces in the line of fire of the mainly Sunni Arab militants.

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Source: AFP