Baghdad: Iraqi authorities are determined to recapture the northern city of Mosul after most of it was overrun by al Qaeda-inspired militants, the provincial governor said on Wednesday, after himself fleeing from the city.
"Mosul is capable of getting back on its feet and getting rid of all the outsiders ... And we have a plan to restore security," said Atheel al-Nujaifi, the Ninevah provincial governor.
The stunning assault by the al Qaeda-inspired group, which started on Sunday night, saw black banner-waving insurgents raid government buildings, pushing out security forces and capturing military vehicles as thousands fled for their lives from what is Iraq`s second-largest city.
There were no immediate estimates on how many people were killed in the assault but the rampage by the militants sent an estimated 500,000 people fleeing from the city, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Today, several Mosul residents said the gunmen were knocking on their doors, trying to reassure locals they would not be harmed and urging civil servants to return to work. The situation appeared calm but tense, said the residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for their own safety.
In an eastern section of the city, 34-year-old Ali Sameer said mosques in his neighbourhood were calling on people to return to work, especially those in public services.
Mosul`s fall was a heavy defeat for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid a widening insurgency by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The group has been advancing in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria, capturing territory in a campaign to set up a militant enclave straddling the border.
Al-Maliki yesterday pressed parliament to declare a state of emergency over the Mosul attack. Legal experts said these powers could include imposing curfews, restricting public movements and censoring the media. State TV said lawmakers could convene as early as tomorrow.
Al-Nujaifi, the governor of Ninevah where Mosul is the provincial capital, also accused senior security force commanders of providing Baghdad with false information about the situation in Mosul and demanding that they should stand trial.
Speaking from the northern Kurdish city of Irbil where he took refuge after leaving Mosul, al-Nujaifi also said smaller armed groups had joined the Islamic State during the fight for control of the city.