Middle East

North Iraq car bomb kills five: officials

A Kurdish peshmerga fighter takes his position behind a wall on the front line with militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Tuz Khormato, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the oil rich province of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

KIRKUK, Iraq: A car bomb in a Kurdish-majority neighbourhood of the ethnically mixed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk killed five people on Wednesday evening, security and medical officials said.

Twenty more people were wounded by the blast in the northern part of the tinderbox oil hub, which lies at the heart of territory Iraq's Kurds want to incorporate into their autonomous region over the objections of Baghdad.

Two of the dead were Kurdish security force members.

While the federal government has not abandoned its opposition to Kurdish claims, Kurdish peshmerga forces are now responsible for its external security after the army abandoned its positions in the face of a Sunni Arab militant offensive led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The insurgent onslaught, which began on June 9, has overrun swathes of five provinces north and west of Baghdad, including mainly Sunni Arab towns in the west of Kirkuk province.

After initially wilting when confronted with the militant advance, security forces have improved their performance. However, that has been limited to maintaining territory, rather than launching any major counter-offensive.





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