North Oil Company (NOC), an Iraqi state-run oil company, had another senior company official killed. This is the third time someone from the firm has been murdered in the past four months.
Saad al-Karbalaie, who was NOC’s chief of operations, was killed in late June. A month later, his successor chief engineer Saad Ali Hussain was also killed. And now Hassan Salim, the company’s deputy inspector-general, was gunned down together with three other employees driving to his office in the city of Kirkuk.
The perpetrators remain elusive, and nobody has so far claimed responsibility according to local police. Kirkuk is the source of a lot of contention since Kurds took control of the city from Islamic State in June 2014. The city located in the north of Iraq is the subject of claims from Kurds, Turks and Arabs and has seen a rash of assassinations since the Kurds took over, although bombings have decreased.
According to two anonymous NOC officials, Hassan Salim was running a corruption investigation, and that is what got him killed. “When you have an official running a corruption investigation getting killed, then it’s a bloody message from parties that could get exposed to stop chasing them. Until now we have lost three officials and more to come. North Oil Company is becoming more of a mafia courtyard rather than a state-run firm.” according to one the anonymous NOC officials.