ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A number of armed, unidentified, and mask-clad men took “anything they could” at gunpoint from a Kurdish sports official’s home on Saturday in the disputed Iraqi province of Kirkuk, according to the official.
Around eight armed men in military uniforms stormed the farmhouse of Nawzad Qadir, the representative of Kirkuk city in the Kurdistan Region’s Olympics Committee in Saqizli village, located in the northeastern part of the province.
The thieves took “anything they could,” said Qadir, adding that he had also been robbed of his car, mobile phone, and $3,000 cash.
He continued, explaining that the small gang carrying out the crime “attempted to kill” him, but its members “later changed their minds.”
“Two of them suggested to take us ‘to the directorate,’” Qadir said, without specifying to which “directorate” they were referring.
Qadir was not alone in the house during the incident. He was accompanied by two other men who were visiting him, one of whom was had his wrists bound with a belt while being forced to stand on his knees.
“They were discussing among themselves what to do to us,” Emad Nawzad, an artist and friend of Qadr, recalled.
There was a power outage during the robbery, according to Nawzad, who was told not to look behind him as the armed men ransacked the residence.
Kirkuk police later arrived at the crime scene and began an investigation into the events of the evening.
The oil-rich city of Kirkuk is disputed by the federal government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Following the Kurdistan Region’s 2017 independence referendum, Iraqi security forces and Iran-backed militias pushed Kurdish Peshmerga fighters from Kirkuk and other disputed territories. Since then, criminal activity has witnessed a sustained rise.
Authorities in the Kurdistan Region regularly call for greater security cooperation with Iraqi forces to fill the security vacuum in those areas, often exploited by remnants of the Islamic State and various other armed groups.
Editing by John J. Catherine
Additional reporting by Soran Kamaran