Four Iraqi journalists were killed Wednesday in a drive-by shooting near the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, police said. The attackers armed with machine guns opened fire as they drove past a vehicle carrying the four journalists at about 2 p.m. in the Rashad area, 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said. The four killed worked for the independent Raad media company, which publishes several weekly newspapers and monthly magazines that deal with politics, education and arts. Those killed were identified as the company's director Raad Mutashar and three of his colleagues, Imad Abdul-Razzaq, Aqil Abdul-Qadir and Nibras Razzaq. Kirkuk, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad, has seen violence rise recently with an influx of militants who have fled a security crackdown in the capital. Ethnic tensions also have risen over Kurdish demands for a referendum on incorporating the city into their autonomous region - a move opposed by many Arabs who moved to the area by Saddam Hussein decades ago to dilute the Kurdish presence there.