Clashes between Kurdish and Shi'ite Turkmen paramilitary forces have broken out in northern Iraq, killing at least eight people and cutting a strategic road between Baghdad and the oil city of Kirkuk, security and medical sources said.
Violence in Tuz Khurmatu, about 175km north of the capital, has become a near monthly occurrence between the armed groups, uncomfortable allies against Islamic State since driving the jihadist militants out of towns and villages in the area in 2014.
A small explosion just before midnight near the local headquarters of two rival political parties sparked armed exchanges between the communities that spread to most neighbourhoods and continued into Sunday morning, according to security sources.
Fighters launched mortars into densely populated areas and fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns at the opposing positions. Unverified photos published by a Shi'ite militia group showed flames engulfing a tank on a main road and heavy black smoke rising from a residential area.
Five Shi'ite fighters and three members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces, including a senior commander, were killed and at least two civilians, including a child, were wounded, security and hospital sources said.
The death toll was expected to rise since snipers were preventing people from transporting casualties to hospital.