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Iraq: 30 killed in suicide blast


At least 30 people were killed and 85 wounded Sunday after a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside a police station in northern Iraq, state news reported.

Iraq’s national news agency said gunmen opened fire on the police headquarters in downtown Kirkuk immediately after the explosion in the synchronized attack. The death toll is likely to rise.

The suicide bomber was disguised as a police officer as he drove the car used in the attack, police sources told Reuters.

Militants had apparently sought to take control of the compound, but were unsuccessful, Brigadier General Natah Mohammed Sabr, the head of the city's emergency services department, told AFP.

The attackers struck at morning rush hour in the city center, Sabr said, with the militants armed with guns, grenades and suicide vests looking to force their way into the police headquarters in the chaotic aftermath of the car bombing.

In addition to the casualties, the attack caused massive damage to nearby buildings, Sabr said.

The deadly attack shattered a relative calm in recent days in Iraq, which has been grappling with a political crisis pitting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against his erstwhile government partners amid weeks of ongoing protests calling for him to resign.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the violence, but al-Qaeda-linked militants frequently target security forces and government targets.

Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed city 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad, lies at the heart of a swathe of disputed territory claimed by both the central government and Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region.

The unresolved row is persistently cited by diplomats and officials as the biggest threat to Iraq's long-term stability.

Militants often exploit a lack of coordination between the two sides' security forces and launch deadly attacks in the city, which remains one of the most violent in Iraq, and also in nearby towns.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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