Man in a bulletproof BMW saves '70 people from Isis snipers'

Peshmerga fighter makes numerous trips under fire to rescue residents trapped by militants in Iraqi city 

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The Independent Online

A man with a bulletproof BMW reportedly rescued more than 70 people from an Iraqi city after they were pinned down under fire from Isis snipers.

Ako Abdulrahman, a fighter in the Kurdish Peshmerga, bought the armoured vehicle after earlier being attacked by Isis militants.

He paid $10,000 (£9,200) for the early 1990s model so that he and his friends could travel around the area in safety, according to CNN.

Mr Abdulrahman, 32, said: "My friends were very happy when I bought the armoured car. We started driving in it to the front line near Kirkuk, not worried about ISIS drive-by shootings or roadside bombs."

The fighter had not realised just how useful his purchase could be until last month, when Isis carried out a series of attacks in the city Kirkuk, killing 64 people.

Many civilians and security workers became trapped in the city after being cut off by jihadi fighters, including snipers firing from rooftops at anyone they saw.

Mr Abdulrahman realised his car could be put to good use and made numerous trips into the city to collect the injured.

He said: "I told myself, this is the right time to help people, this is the right moment to do it. I am a fighter and I have a bulletproof car, shame on me if I can't help."

"I kept telling myself, my people are in danger, they need me, my city is in danger, I have to protect it."

Isis militants sprayed his car with more than 50 bullets but the armoured plating did its job, allowing the fighter to transport more than 70 wounded people to safety. He also managed to collect many of the bodies of people who had already died.

"When I arrived at the scene, I saw many people on the ground, civilians and security forces and no one could dare to come close because of ISIS snipers and random shooting," he said.

"In my car, I carried Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians. I felt like I am truly Iraq and this is who everyone should be."

Mr Abdulrahman was personally thanked by Dr Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk, for his role in rescuing the injured and was rewarded with 500,000 Iraqi dinars (£355) for his bravery.

He did not realise he had been given the money until he later discovered it in an envelope, and said he was offended by the gesture.

He said: "I was happy with the certificate of appreciation from the governor, but I thought it's insulting to give me money for something every Iraqi should do".

After hearing his story BMW reportedly offered Mr Abdulrahman a brand new car, saying they wanted to display his bullet-ridden vehicle at their German headquarters.

But the fighter instead decided to repair his existing car so he can keep using it to save lives.

Isis has assumed control of swathes of northern Iraq since it was founded in 2014. In recent months, however, the organisation has been forced into retreat by a US-backed coalition of Iraqi forces.

The Iraqi army is currently engaged in a bloody battle with the groups for control of the key city of Mosul, one of the militant organsation's last remaining strongholds. 

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