KIRKUK, Iraq: Violence in Iraq’s disputed northern oil province of Kirkuk killed five people Monday, the latest in a string of attacks in the region, as part of nationwide unrest that left nine dead.
The latest violence further raised tensions in Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed province that Kurdish leaders want to incorporate in their northern autonomous region despite opposition from its Arab and Turkmen communities, in a row U.S. officials have long said is one of the biggest threats to Iraq’s stability.
A morning car bomb targeting the convoy of a police commander in Al-Rashad, south of Kirkuk city, killed two policemen and wounded 12 other people, an officer said. Major Ahmad al-Barzanji and four other policemen were among the wounded.
On the road to Kirkuk from Tuz Khurmatu further south, a roadside bomb targeting a patrol in the early hours killed a captain and another soldier, said the town’s police chief, Colonel Ali Hamdani. Two more soldiers were wounded.
Meanwhile, in the west of the province, gunmen wearing army uniforms killed Habsha Ziyad Ahmad in her home, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It was unclear why she was targeted.
Seven people were killed in attacks in Kirkuk Province Saturday, two days after three bombings in the provincial capital killed 29 people in Iraq’s deadliest day since late March.
Currently, U.S. forces participate in confidence-building tripartite patrols and checkpoints with central government forces and Kurdish security officers in Kirkuk and across northern Iraq.
But the withdrawal of some 45,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq must be completed by the end of the year, according to the terms of a bilateral security pact.
In a separate attack in the main northern city of Mosul, gunmen shot dead two Iraqi soldiers at an army checkpoint in the south of the city, a local security official said.
In Baghdad, gunmen using silenced pistols assassinated police Colonel Iyad Ali Akbar in the east of the capital at around 6:30 p.m. (1530 GMT), an Interior Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Also Monday, a taxi driver was killed and his passenger wounded when a magnetic “sticky bomb” attached to their vehicle blew up in Ghazaliyah, west Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.
Earlier, a car bomb blew up in Baghdad’s eastern Zayouna neighbourhood at around 4:00 a.m. (0100 GMT), destroying 13 shops, including seven alcohol stores, an Interior Ministry official said.
There were no casualties resulting from the attack, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The violence came after a spate of bombings in and around Baghdad Sunday killed at least 19 Iraqis and two American soldiers, according to security officials and the U.S. army.