Three bomb blasts rattled the northern city of Kirkuk just days after U.S. troops handed over a provincial base to their Iraqi counterparts and a day after the highest ranking al-Qaeda leader was captured in Samarra. At least 37 Iraqis were killed and 110 more were wounded in those attacks and others across the country.
Three blasts killed at least 27 people and wounded over 90 in Kirkuk, where the death toll is expected to rise due to many serious injuries. The first bomb, according to witnesses, lured policemen outside to a second car bomb waiting for them. A third bombing 45 minutes later targeted the head of the city’s counter-terrorism unit. He escaped injury but four bodyguards were killed. Great material damage was also reported.
While authorities blamed the recent capture of al-Qaeda leaders, and security was tightened in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, it should be noted that both the Kurdish Regional Government and Iraq’s central government claim Kirkuk. Even the relatively innocuous transfer of a local base from U.S. to Iraqi forces last Sunday could have aggravated such tensions. Many expect security conditions to deteriorate after the withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of the year.
In Baghdad, a sticky bomb planted on a car in Bab al-Muadham killed a cleric and wounded two bystanders. Two men were wounded in a blast in Iskan that targeted an Education Ministry staffer. Three people were wounded in an attack in Aqaba bin-Naf’e Square.
A roadside bomb killed four soldiers in Qayara.
In Mosul, police killed two gunmen and confiscated a car loaded with weapons and ammunition.
A car bomb targeting an official in Baquba instead killed two people and wounded 10 others.