At least 28 people have been killed and more than 200 others injured in attacks across Iraq, with at least two of them aimed at Kurdish targets in the country’s north.
In Wednesday’s deadliest attack, two suicide bombers blew themselves up in Kirkuk, apparently targeting an office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
They struck in the centre of the ethnically mixed northern Iraqi city, located 240km north of Baghdad.
At least one blast appeared to target a compound housing local offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish regional president.
The two car bombs killed at least 26 people and wounded 190, Sadiq Omar Rasul, provincial health chief, said.
“Both explosions inflicted massive destruction,” Brigadier-General Sarhad Qader of Kirkuk police said.
“Our forces are still trying to remove corpses from the rubble” of the first attack.
Tuz Khurmatu attack
Another suicide car bomb in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, also north of Baghdad, killed five people and wounded 40 others.
It struck near the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president.
Both Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu lie in a tract of disputed territory in north Iraq that Kurdistan wants to incorporate into its autonomous three-province region against the wishes of the central government in Baghdad.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the Kurdistan attacks.
In Baghdad, five attacks left six people dead, officials said, while bombings in Baiji, Hawija and Tikrit, all north of the capital, killed three people and wounded seven others.
The latest attacks came a day after the killing of a Sunni Muslim Iraqi parliamentarian in a suicide bombing west of Baghdad, with hundreds of mourners attending Ayfan al-Essawi’s funeral outside the predominantly Sunni town of Fallujah on Wednesday.
Essawi’s coffin, covered in an Iraqi flag, was transported atop a 4WD vehicle that was part of a massive convoy of dozens of vehicles.
One person was wounded by a roadside bomb as the procession set off for the cemetery, despite heavy security measures.
Essawi was a former leader of the Sahwa, a collection of Sunni tribal militias that turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and sided with the US military from late 2006, helping to turn the tide of Iraq’s violence.
Sahwa fighters are regularly targeted for attacks by al-Qaeda-linked Sunni fighters who view them as traitors.
The violence comes amid a political crisis that has pitted Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, against several of his ministers just months before provincial elections, a barometer of support for Maliki and his opponents in the run-up to the general election next year.
Weeks of anti-government demonstrations in Sunni Arab majority areas, supported by several parties that are members of Maliki’s unity cabinet, have hardened opposition against Maliki, a Shia.
The demonstrations have condemned alleged misuse of anti-terror laws to detain members of the minority community, and claim Sunnis are being targeted by the Shia-led authorities.