TIKRIT, Iraq, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- At least three people were killed and nine injured in attack by Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq's central province of Salahudin, a provincial security source said.
The attack occurred before dawn when gunmen, believed to be IS militants, attacked the village of Farhatiyah in Es'haqi area, some 60 km south of the provincial capital Tikrit, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The attackers fled the scene before the arrival of the Iraqi security forces who launched an investigation into the incident and carried out a search operation in the area looking for the attackers, the source said.
The predominately Sunni Arab province of Salahudin has been the scene of a major offensive by Iraqi security forces and allied Hashd Shaabi units to drive out IS militants from the provincial key cities and towns, including Tikrit, some 170 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
The attack also came after the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Dec. 9 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 and individuals of IS militants melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas in many areas in Iraq looking for safe havens. They are still capable of carrying out attacks from time to time against the security forces and civilians.