BAGHDAD, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic State (IS) militants Sunday abducted five villagers from their homes near the city of Tikrit, the capital of Iraq's central province of Salahudin, a provincial police source said.
The incident took place in the evening when 20 IS militants broke into the village of Tal-Gseiba in east of Tikrit, located some 170 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Col. Mohammed Khalil al-Bazi from Salahudin's provincial police command told Xinhua.
A joint force from the Iraqi army, police and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi launched an operation to hunt down the extremist militant and rescue the kidnapped villagers, al-Bazi said.
The security situation in Iraq has been dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.
However, small groups and individuals of extremist militants melted or regrouped in urban and rugged areas, and are carrying out attacks against the security forces and civilians despite operations from time to time to hunt them down.