Tensions ran high in eastern Iraq on Friday between Kurdish and Shi’ite fighters, highlighting divisions hampering efforts by the U.S.-backed government to blunt the momentum of Islamic State militants.

There were conflicting reports on what transpired in Diyala province after Kurdish peshmerga fighters attempted to dig a trench to separate two towns there, Jalawla and al-Saadiya, police sources said.

Jalawla is held by Kurds while al-Saadiya is controlled by Shi’ites.

A police official said five people were killed after clashes erupted between the two sides competing for territory in several parts of Iraq, even though they have joined forces against Islamic State in the past.  […]