BAGHDAD: Gunmen shot dead a senior oil official working for Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company (NOC) on Sunday, police and company officials said.
NOC’s chief of operations, Saad al-Karbalaie, was killed in the northern oil city of Kirkuk after gunmen forced him to stop his vehicle as he was leaving his office and then shot him, police sources said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on Karbalaie, who was supervising production and export facilities in Kirkuk.
Major oil producer and OPEC member iraq faces security challenges from the ultra-hardline Daesh militant group which controls a third of the country, and a sectarian conflict exacerbated by the group’s presence.
Baiji refinery, north of Baghdad, is a focal point for government efforts to slow the advance of Daesh. The complex has changed hands several times in months of fighting.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi said Saturday that Iraqi forces made an “unauthorised” withdrawal from Ramadi last month, leading to the Daesh group’s takeover of the Anbar provincial capital.“The withdrawal of the forces from Ramadi was unauthorised - the orders were the opposite. The forces had to resist, and if they had resisted, we would not have lost Ramadi,” Abadi said in televised remarks.
Ramadi fell to the extremist group in mid-May after government forces had held out against militants there for more than a year.It was Baghdad’s worst setback in months after its forces had retaken significant territory in two provinces north of the capital.
Abadi’s remarks came a week after a senior officer in the US-led coalition against Daesh said the withdrawal was militarily unnecessary.