Last updated: 11 September, 2014

Islamic State gunmen kidnap 20 Iraqi villagers

Islamic State jihadists kidnapped Thursday 20 people in a northern Iraqi village suspected of forming a local group to fight them, a security official and witnesses said.

The kidnappings were carried out in Kirkuk province by dozens of fighters from IS, which led a major offensive that overran large areas of Iraq in June.

Militants abducted 50 people from a second village in Kirkuk province last week after residents burned one of their positions and their flag, but released them several days later.

According to rights group Amnesty International, IS kidnapped thousands of civilians as it overran minority-populated northern villages last month.

Amnesty has accused IS of “systematic ethnic cleansing,” including mass killings, of ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq.

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama outlined a strategy for combatting IS, pledging expanded air strikes, training and other assistance to Iraq.