Militants in Iraq overrun Mosul government HQ
Mosul's governor Atheel Nujaifi, was trapped inside the building but managed to escape (File/AFP)
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Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants have overrun the headquarters of the provincial government in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul.
Militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overran the government building in a fourth day of fighting in the country’s second-largest city on Monday. They were armed with rocket-propelled grenades, sniper rifles and heavy machine guns mounted on vehicles.
Governor of Mosul Atheel Nujaifi was trapped inside the building but managed to get out while police held back part of the attack by the al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Earlier on Monday, Nujaifi had urged the city’s residents during a televised plea to fight the militants. “I call on the men of Mosul to stand firm in their areas and defend them against the outsiders, and to form popular committees through the provincial council,” he said.
According to police and local authorities, the militants used cranes to move blast walls into position and block roads to stop army forces from regaining control.
“Without urgent intervention of more supporting troops, Mosul could fall into their hands in a matter of days,” said an unnamed top official from Nineveh operation center, referring to the militants, Reuters reported.
The militants are in control of the western side of Mosul and are advancing southward, where a major army base is situated, reports say.
Takfiri groups, including the so-called ISIL, are reportedly coming to Iraq from neighboring Syria and Saudi Arabia to undermine security in the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said Saudi Arabia and Qatar are responsible for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing the Al Saud regime as a major supporter of global terrorism.