Over a dozen Iraqi police officers were killed in an attack the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is suspected of carrying out at a security checkpoint.
Twin attack on Sunday in the al-Rashad region south of Kirkuk city, took place just after midnight.
The attackers first engaged in a military confrontation with police officers that lasted about two hours, killing three officers. Reinforcements on their way to the scene were killed in an ambush using explosives planted by the roadside.
Three police officers were also wounded in the attack and another was missing.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but ISIL fighters are active in the area and a security source said the group was involved.
Separately, at least three Iraqi soldiers were killed and one was wounded on Sunday when gunmen attacked an army checkpoint southeast of the Iraqi city of Mosul.
ISIS seized large parts of Iraq in 2014 before being defeated by a campaign supported by a US led military coalition.
The Iraqi government declared victory in 2017, but sleeper cells continue to exist who often target security forces.
The international coalition troops in Iraq currently number approximately 3,500, of which 2,500 are US troops.
However, Washington has been drawing down its military presence amid attacks on facilities it uses by Iran-aligned armed groups and has said that, from next year, the role of US troops will be limited to training and advising their Iraqi counterparts.
Last Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron visited northern Iraq and expressed concern about an ISIL “resurgence” in both Iraq and Syria.
He also said French soldiers deployed in Iraq as part of the international coalition will remain “no matter what choices the Americans make”.