[QODLink]
Middle East
Deadly blasts strike Kirkuk
At least 29 people killed and 80 injured in three separate bomb attacks targeting police in Iraq's northern oil hub.
Last Modified: 19 May 2011 10:39
Kirkuk, a volatile mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and others, sits atop some of the world's richest oil reserves [Reuters]

At least three bombs targeting security forces have exploded near government buildings in the centre of Iraq's northern oil city of Kirkuk, killing at least 29 people, mostly police officers, and wounding 80 others, officials said.

Television footage showed the twisted, burned wreckage of several cars in the street as police officers picked through the debris following the blasts on Thursday.

"There were three explosions that targeted the security forces near the local government buildings," Hassan Turan, the head of the Kirkuk provincial council, told the Reuters news agency.

"The first was a sticky bomb on a car of a police officer, followed by a car bomb targeting the police who gathered near the car," Turan said. "Afterwards there was a second car bomb that exploded in the same place."

Kirkuk is located 250km north of the capital, Baghdad.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said the death toll in these "co-ordinated car bomb attacks", the target of which appeared to be a senior anti-terrorism official, looks set to rise.

"Police are now saying that at least 29 people were killed and 80 wounded in this major bombing in what has become the most volatile city in Iraq," she said.

"Kirkuk is in the centre of the northern oilfields, and apparently during the morning rush-hour at a parking garage near the police centre a car bomb exploded followed by another bomb, those were the most causalities there.

"But that was followed by a third attack on a police convoy and according to sources that was actually targeting the head of the criminal investigation centre in Kirkuk," she said.

'Volatile mix'

Kirkuk, a volatile mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and others, sits atop some of the world's richest oil reserves and is a potential flashpoint as US forces prepare to withdraw from Iraq by year's end, more than eight years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

As the deadline for US troop withdrawal draws nearer, concerns about oil-rich Kirkuk have increased [AFP]

"Kirkuk is quintessentially the disputed city: the Kurds see it as their internal homeland, they believe it has always belonged to them even though it is under Iraqi government control," our correspondent said.

"The city is claimed by Arabs as well, of course, as well as Turkmen who are a substantial population there. On top of all that it is the centre of the oilfields - it has enormous oil reserves and it has been fought over for decades.

"It is impossible to even have a census in Kirkuk to figure out exactly the ethnic composition. Now this is something the United States is particularly worried about, just a few months before they are due to leave they have actually set up what amounts to a peacekeeping force that will be pulled out of there if they leave as they are scheduled to at the end of the year," Arraf reported.

"No claims of responsibility yet so it is impossible to say whether there is an ethnic component to this. But it has become a very complicated, violent city - a ticking time bomb."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.