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Jun-10-2014 08:34printcomments

Iraq in State of Emergency After Militants Take Over Mosul

About 150,000 people are believed to have fled the city.


Iraq's prime minister has asked parliament to declare a state of emergency after Islamist militants effectively took control of Mosul. Photo Courtesy: BBC

(MOSUL, Iraq) - Iraq's prime minister has asked parliament to declare a state of emergency after Islamist militants effectively took control of Mosul.

Nouri Maliki acknowledged "vital areas" of the country's second largest city had been seized.

Overnight, hundreds of armed men seized local government's offices and police stations before taking control of the airport and the army's headquarters.

About 150,000 people are believed to have fled the city.

Sources have told BBC Arabic that they are heading to three towns in the nearby region of Kurdistan where authorities have set up temporary camps for them.

Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani issued a statement appealing for the UN refugee agency to help those fleeing Mosul.

Elsewhere, a double bomb attack in the central town of Baquba killed at least 20 people, police and medics said. The blasts, targeting a funeral procession, also wounded 28 people.

In the past week, the jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and its allies have attacked cities and towns in western and northern Iraq, killing scores of people.

'Maximum alert' The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says ISIS has been informally controlling much of Nineveh province for months, imposing tolls on the movement of goods and demanding protection money from local officials.

After five days of fighting, they took control of key installations in Mosul, which has a population of about 1.8 million.

On Tuesday, several residents told the Associated Press that black flags associated with jihadist groups were flying from buildings and that the militants had announced over loudspeakers they had "come to liberate Mosul and would fight only those who attack them".

"The situation is chaotic inside the city and there is nobody to help us," said Umm Karam, a government employee. "We are afraid."

Many police stations were reported to have been set on fire and hundreds of detainees set free.

Osama al-Nujaifi, the speaker of parliament and brother of Nineveh's governor, called on the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government to send reinforcements to Mosul to "fight the terrorists", whom he said had seized military hardware, including helicopters.

The Iraqi government is struggling with a surge in sectarian violence that killed almost 800 people, including 603 civilians, in May alone, according to the UN. Last year, more than 8,860 people died.

Parts of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and much of the nearby city of Falluja have been under the control of ISIS and its allies since late December, something that Mr Maliki has been unable to reverse.

Source: BBC and The Associated Press

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