(KIRKUK) — Iraqi Kurdish officials said early Monday that federal forces and state-backed militias have launched a “major, multi-pronged” attack aimed at retaking the disputed northern city of Kirkuk.

The Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement that Kurdish forces known as peshmerga have destroyed at least five U.S.-supplied Humvees being used by the state-sanctioned militias following the “unprovoked attack” south of the city.

Inside Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic city that is home to more than 1 million people, residents shuttered themselves in homes and reported hearing sporadic booms they said sounded like shelling and rocket fire.

Tensions have soared since the Kurds held a non-binding referendum last month in which they voted for independence from Iraq. The central government, along with neighboring Turkey

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