3 explosions kill 29 in Iraq
Three explosions aimed at Iraqi security forces ripped through the divided northern city of Kirkuk on Thursday morning, killing at least 29 people, most of them police officers, and wounding scores more.
The New York Times
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Times news services
BAGHDAD — Three explosions aimed at Iraqi security forces ripped through the divided northern city of Kirkuk on Thursday morning, killing at least 29 people, most of them police officers, and wounding scores more.
The attackers used a now familiar tactic, detonating successive explosions so those who rush to the scene of the first blast are hurt. The initial blast was caused by a small improvised explosive device attached to a sedan in a parking lot outside the local police headquarters. After the police arrived, a larger car bomb went off, killing 26 officers and three civilians.
"I didn't feel anything," said Kaweh Hama Rashid, a police officer wounded in the second blast. "I just fell to the ground, and blood covered me. I saw all of my friends dying and wounded in front of my eyes."
About 30 minutes later, a third car bomb exploded near the provincial government headquarters, wounding about 13 people, including Kirkuk's head of criminal investigation, the target of the explosion, security officials said.
The attacks came at a fragile moment for Kirkuk. Three ethnic groups are grappling for control of the area and its rich oil reserves. The fight for primacy in Kirkuk among Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens is one of the most potentially volatile issues facing Iraq as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw over the next six months.
Security officials said at least 105 people were wounded in the blasts and that victims with critical burns were ferried to more advanced hospitals one to two hours away.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a team of investigators to the scene of the bombings and said the government would compensate the victims' families.
Earlier this year, the U.S. military sent troops into Kirkuk to help defuse a standoff between rival groups of security forces that had threatened to destabilize the city.
Under a security agreement signed by Iraq and the United States, the 46,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq are scheduled to withdraw by the end of the year.
Iraqi leaders have said they plan to hold discussions in coming weeks about whether they should ask for some U.S. troops to stay longer — a politically delicate question. U.S. leaders have suggested they would consider the request.
But military transfers are already taking place. On Sunday, the U.S. military handed over a base in Kirkuk province staffed by 160 soldiers to Iraqi security forces, saying the action represented "the commitment of the United States Forces-Iraq to transfer bases to the Iraqi army's authority throughout 2011."
The United States still has about 2,400 soldiers at its Warrior operating base in Kirkuk.
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