“All of Nineveh province fell into the hands of militants,” Nujaifi told a news conference.
Overnight, hundreds of gunmen launched an assault on Mosul, 350 kilometers north of Baghdad near the border with Turkey, engaging in combat with troops and police, they said.
Before the entire city fell, they took control of the governor’s headquarters, prisons and television stations.
“The city of Mosul is outside the control of the state and at the mercy of the militants,” an interior ministry official told AFP, making it the second city to fall to anti-government forces this year.
Reuters reported that the fighters belong to the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Turkey is investigating reports that 28 Turkish truck drivers ferrying diesel to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul have been abducted by militants, a senior Turkish official told Reuters on Tuesday.
Turkish media reports said the drivers were being held hostage after being seized while carrying diesel from Turkey’s southern port of Iskenderun to a power plant in Mosul.
An AFP journalist, himself fleeing Mosul, said shops were closed, security forces had abandoned vehicles and a police station had been set ablaze.
In recent days, militants have launched major operations in Nineveh and four other provinces, killing scores of people and highlighting both their long reach and the weakness of Iraq’s security forces.
Mosul is the second city to fall to militants this year, after the government lost control of Fallujah, just a short drive from Baghdad, in early January.