BAGHDAD, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Islamic State (IS) militants killed two truck drivers and kidnapped 15 people in two separate overnight attacks in central Iraq, official sources said Monday.
In the first incident, IS militants disguised in military uniforms set up a fake checkpoint on the main road in Enjanah area between Iraq's capital Baghdad and Kirkuk Province to waylay buses and trucks, killing two truck drivers and kidnapping seven including an army officer, Udai al-Khadran, mayor of the town of Khalis, some 70 km northeast of Baghdad, told Xinhua.
Iraqi security forces and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units rushed to the scene and conducted a search for the militants, Khadran said.
Enjanah is part of the mountainous Himreen area on the border between the northern part of Diyala Province and the eastern part of neighboring Salahudin Province.
In an another incident late Sunday night, IS militants kidnapped eight shepherds from their houses in a rural area in the north of the town of Shirqat, some 280 km north of Baghdad, Maj. Sadoun al-Jumaili from Salahudin Provincial Operations Command, told Xinhua.
A security force dispatched to the scene carried out a search of the desert land in the west of Salahudin, the suspected direction where the kidnappers fled, Jumaili said.
During the past few months, hundreds of IS militants fled their former urban strongholds in Mosul, Salahudin Province and Hawijah area in the west of Kirkuk, after Iraqi forces cleared these regions during major anti-IS offensives.
On Dec. 9, 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared full liberation of Iraq from the IS after Iraqi forces recaptured all the areas once seized by the extremist group.
However, small groups and individuals of IS militants have since regrouped in rugged areas including Himreen, carrying out attacks against security forces and civilians despite operations from time to time to hunt them down.