/ 11 December 2008

Dozens killed in Iraq bomb attack

At least 45 people were killed and 93 wounded in a suicide bomb attack on a restaurant near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday, the city’s deputy police chief, Torhane Yussef, said.

Women and children were among the victims of the attack on the Abdullah restaurant, an Interior Ministry official in Baghdad said.

The blast happened in early afternoon on the final day of the Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) holiday at a roadside restaurant 15km north of Kirkuk and 255km from Baghdad, police officer Salam Zengana said.

A Defence Ministry source, as well as waiter Abbas Fadhel, said a suicide bomber activated a booby-trapped belt in the middle of the restaurant, where families were dining.

However, the Interior Ministry official said the attack was by an explosives-laden car outside the restaurant.

The wounded were taken to Kirkuk’s main hospital.

”More and more victims are arriving,” Doctor Mohammed Abdallah said.

At the restaurant, victims were lying on the ground with blood on their faces, an Agence France-Presse journalist said.

Bomb attacks have continued regularly in Kirkuk and surrounding areas, although the number of violent incidents in Iraq as a whole has dropped sharply this year.

The province is ethnically mixed, with large Arab, Kurdish, and Turkmen communities, but the Kurds have demanded that it be added to their autonomous region in the country’s north.

On December 1, police found 12 bodies in a village south of Kirkuk. They had been riddled with bullets and incinerated, Jamal Taher Bakr, the provincial police chief, said.

That incident was part of the bloodiest day in Iraq in more than three weeks, as a spate of attacks targeting security forces in the heart of Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul killed about 30 people.

On November 2, two children were killed and two others wounded when a bomb exploded as they played on wasteland south of Kirkuk.

On October 18, a member of the Kurdistan regional security forces died and three Iraqi policemen were wounded in violence in Kirkuk province. — AFP