BAGHDAD - The United Nations warned Saturday that Shiite Turkmen residents of an Iraqi town besieged by militants since June risk -massacre- if urgent action is not taken to rescue them.

The town of Amerli, in Salaheddin province north of Baghdad, has been entirely cut off from the rest of government-held territory since fighters spearheaded by the Islamic State (IS) swept through much of the rest of the province in a lightning offensive in early June.

-The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens,- UN Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement. -I urge the Iraqi government to do all it can to relieve the siege and to ensure that the residents receive lifesaving humanitarian assistance or are evacuated in a dignified manner,- he said.

-Iraq’s allies and the international community should work with the authorities to prevent a human rights tragedy.- The Shiite faith of the majority of Amerli’s 20,000 residents is anathema to the Sunni extremists of IS. Prime minister designate Haidar al-Abadi promised aid for the town on Saturday, calling for the provision of -all types of military and logistical support for Amerli.- His comments came after Iraq’s most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is revered by millions, sought on Friday to bring attention to Amerli’s plight. -Amerli suffers from a tight blockade in place for two months,- and has been defended by -heroic men with limited weapons and ammunition and a severe shortage of food items,- Sistani said in remarks read on his behalf.

Moreover, A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle packed with explosives at the interior ministry’s intelligence headquarters in central Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 17 people, security officials said.

Car bombs kills 21: Three near-simultaneous car bombs exploded in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Saturday, killing 21 people and wounding 118, a senior police officer and a doctor said.

Two of the bombs exploded near buildings under construction that were used as observation positions by security forces, while the third struck the entrance to a market.

The bombings come as Iraqi federal and Kurdish security forces battle a jihadist-led militant offensive that was launched in June and has overrun large areas of five provinces.

In the early days of the onslaught, Iraqi soldiers left their positions in oil-rich Kirkuk province, the capital of which is the city of the same name.

This cleared the way for Kurdish forces to take control of it and other disputed northern areas that they have long wanted to incorporate into their autonomous region, over the strong objection of Baghdad.