Car bomber kills 18 in north Iraq city of Kirkuk
BAGHDAD, Wednesday (Reuters) A suicide car bomb blast killed 18
people, including 10 police, in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday,
and mortars landed near the U.S. ambassador to Iraq during a ceremony in
Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
The bomber detonated his explosives-laden car next to a group of
police vehicles on the main road leading south from Kirkuk to Baghdad
shortly after sunset. Police Colonel Borhan Tayyib Taha said 28 people
were wounded in the blast.
Ambulances ferried the worst cases to hospitals in Kirkuk, where
distraught relatives gathered to search for loved ones.
Police said they expected the toll to rise as many of those injured
were badly wounded.
Kirkuk is a mixed Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen city that has seen
frequent episodes of violence, some the result of tensions between the
separate communities, all of whom claim ownership of the city, which
lies close to vast oil reserves.
The blast follows a string of suicide bombs across the country in the
past five days in the build up to elections set for Dec. 15. At least
180 people have been killed since Friday, including 77 Shi'ite Muslims
blown up in twin suicide bombings on mosques in the mixed Kurdish and
Shi'ite city of Khanaqin.
Tuesday's attack came hours after insurgents fired two mortars at a
complex of palaces built by Saddam in Tikrit, where U.S. Ambassador
Zalmay Khalilzad was attending a ceremony handing the palaces back to
the Iraqi government.