Arrested child suicide bomber 'kidnapped by masked men'

A WOULD-BE suicide bomber thought to be as young as 12 has told Iraqi police he was kidnapped by masked men who placed an explosive vest on him.

Footage emerged showing Iraqi security forces removing a suicide bomb vest from the young boy after he was apprehended in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Sunday.

"The boy claimed during interrogation that he had been kidnapped by masked men who put the explosives on him and sent him to the area," Kirkuk intelligence official Chato Fadhil Humadi told the AP.

The boy, Mr Humadi added, was displaced from the Isis-held city of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, by recent military operations in the area.

He arrived in Kirkuk a week ago, Mr Humadi said. The boy's name is known to the police.

Hours earlier, a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a Shia mosque in Kirkuk, injuring two people.

"There is a dangerous campaign tonight against Kirkuk," a security official told Kurdish news agency Rudaw.all

The Amaq news agency, Isis' media arm, claimed responsibility for the mosque bombing, but made no statement about the boy.

On Saturday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an Isis child suicide bomber as young as 12 was behind an attack on a Kurdish wedding which killed at least 51 people.

At least 22 of the victims were under the age of 14, a government official said.

Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in Iraq's north, is claimed by both Iraq's central government and the country's Kurdish region.

Kirkuk has seen a rise in ethnic tensions following Isis' blitz across northern and western Iraq in 2014. Iraqi security forces largely withdrew from Kirkuk and Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga took control of the city. Since then, Shia militia fighters have also massed around the city.

The area is home to Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen who all have competing claims to the area. The Kurds have long wanted to incorporate the city into their semi-autonomous region, but Iraq's central government opposes this.

Additional reporting by AP