BAQUBA, Iraq, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces on Sunday killed a local leader of Islamic State (IS) group and two of his aides in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a provincial security source said.
Acting on intelligence reports, an army force ambushed the IS leader and his two aides in al-Nida area in east of the provincial capital city Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, and shot them dead, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
In a separate incident, the security forces found the bodies of two physicians and an engineer, who are members of a Hashd Shaabi brigade in Maytah area in north of the province, the source said.
The three Hashd Shaabi members were abducted by unknown militants five days ago, while travelling on a main road at a rural area in north of Baquba, the source added.
Maytah is part of the volatile al-Udhaim area in the northwestern part of Diyala province.
The extremist IS group are using hideouts in the sprawling rugged areas that extend from western part of Diyala to Himreen mountainous area and nearby Mteibijah area in the neighboring Salahudin province.
For the second day, the security forces are carrying out an offensive to hunt down remnants of IS militants in the rugged rural areas near the border between the provinces of Diyala and Salahudin, including Mteibijah and Maytah.
Dozens of IS militants fled their former bases in Salahudin province and Hawijah area in west of Kirkuk after the Iraqi forces cleared these areas from the extremist militants during anti-IS offensives in the past few months.
On Dec. 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from IS militants after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.
However, small groups of IS militants resorted to deserts and rugged areas in many areas in Iraq looking for safe havens but the security forces are hunting them down from time to time.