Kirkuk police announced on Thursday (October 29th), the arrest of six people suspected of involvement in the attacks on gold and jewelry stores on Atlas Street, where they killed and wounded 21 people on October 26th.
Police Chief of Kirkuk province Maj. Gen. Jamal Tahir Bakr said in a press conference that Iraqi security forces wounded one of the gunmen who attacked the jewelry stores and arrested him.
During investigations, the detainee reportedly revealed the names of other suspects and the location where they were hiding.
"With assistance from the Iraqi intelligence agency, Iraqi security forces arrested the other members of the terrorist cell on Wednesday," Bakr said. "Five people were arrested at a house in Wahid Huzayran neighborhood, south of the city."
Iraqi forces also found weapons used in the attack hidden in a barrel buried in a garden at the house.
"The detainees are natives of Baghdad and Diyala," Bakr said. "They confessed before the investigating judge that they were members of Ansar al-Sunna, which is linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq."
Bakr also said the gold stolen from stores would be returned to owners after the investigations are completed.
Kirkuk city Police Chief Brig. Gen. Sarhad Abdul Qadir told Mawtani that, "The six detainees represent the money collection cell that finances the terrorist groups in town."
He said police confiscated all the weapons used in the attack, including pistols, silencer-equipped guns, hand grenades, and improvised explosive devices, as well as two vehicles the attackers used to carry out the operation.
Abdul Qadir said the search was still ongoing to find other accomplices who facilitated the terrorists' work and provided them a safe haven.
"It was a big operation, but the abilities and competency of police were greater," he said. "The arrest of the attackers, which was made in less than 20 hours, is deemed a major development in the work of the Iraqi security apparatus."
Spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Interior Alaa al-Taey said, "The terrorist groups found themselves lost and confused after the security forces succeeded in draining their terrorist resources and preventing them from having access to money."
"As a result, they were forced to turn to robbery and theft gangs targeting citizens' money and properties, exactly as they have always been targeting their lives," he told Mawtani.
At al-Souk al-Asri on Atlas Street in central Kirkuk, people celebrated after police announced the arrests. Store owners handed out free juice and soft drinks to passersby.
"These terrorist groups are all linked by the same ideology, which is the ideology of murder and destruction," said Ammar Ahmed, 23, a Kirkuk resident. "Their arrest represents the best consolation for the victims' families."
Ali Faisal, 42, owner of a silver store, said, "The terrorists are killing anything before them and they do not differentiate between children, old people, or women. Their only goal is to steal money, and this is the true face of blind terrorism."