ISIS militants have attacked Kirkuk in northern Iraq, an effort that might be an earnest attempt to capture the key oil-rich city or perhaps to divert Kurdish troops fighting to capture the Islamist extremist group’s stronghold of Mosul.

For months, ISIS has been facing off with the Peshmerga — armed fighters who protect Iraqi Kurdistan — to the west of Kirkuk. It had gone into areas on Kirkuk’s outskirts, but not the central city.

Until now, apparently.

Heavily armed militants attacked an abandoned hotel in central Kirkuk that local police had used as their headquarters.

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