Kirkuk energy plant
Smoke rises after an attack at Bai Hassan oil station, northwest of Kirkuk. The UN's refugee agency says some 3,000 people tried to flee the north-western Iraqi region but were captured by Isis militants who executed 12 of them REUTERS/Ako Rasheed

The United Nations' refugee agency has confirmed that up to 3,000 fleeing Iraqi villagers have been captured by Isis, while the militants executed at least 12 of them. In its daily report, the UNHCR said the villagers had been attempting to leave Kirkuk in the Hawiga District.

"UNHCR has received reports that Isil captured on 4 August up to 3,000 IDPs (internally displaced people) from villages in Hawiga District in Kirkuk Governorate trying to flee to Kirkuk city," the report stated.

Also on 4 August, the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights issued a statement that around 120 Isis fighters had captured 1,900 civilians with some being used as shields against attacks by Iraqi Security Forces. Tens of civilians had been executed, and six burnt, Reuters reported.

Only days earlier, on 31 July, militants attacked a gas facility and an oilfield near Kirkuk when gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on Iraq's North Oil Company. Militants also attacked the nearby Bai Hassan oil station, killing an engineer and sparking a major fire.

Following the US military coalition's targeting of Isis, the militants' grip on some towns has been broken, but it still controls Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

Meanwhile the UNHCR is constructing a site northeast of Mosul for 6,000 people and is preparing another northwest of the city for 15,000, although many more are in need. Tens of thousands who fled Fallujah have not returned since Isis recaptured the city in June.

In a statement, UNHCR said: "Although local authorities have suggested that returns to Fallujah could begin in September, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement has stated that it may take another three months before conditions are conducive for large scale returns."