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 Truck bomb kills 19, wounds 70 in Iraqi Kurdistan's capital

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Truck bomb kills 19, wounds 70 in Iraqi Kurdistan's capital  9.5.2007

 

 


Firemen evacuate a victim from the rubble of a collapsed building after a bomb attack in Erbil, May 9, 2007 Reuters


Kurdistani soldiers and residents stand near a crater at the site of a bomb attack in Erbil May 9, 2007 Reuters


Kurdish soldiers stand near a building damaged in a bomb attack in Erbil, May 9, 2007 Reuters


A Kurdish policeman looks after a man injured in a truck bomb explosion in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's normally calm Kurdistan autonomous region, 9 May 2007 AFP
May 9, 2007

Erbil, Kurdistan region (Iraq), May 9, -- A truck bomb killed 19 people and wounded 70 on Wednesday in front of the Kurdish interior ministry in
the capital city of Kurdistan, Erbil, in one of the few bomb attacks in the relatively peaceful Kurdistan region since the U.S.-led liberation of Iraq in 2003.

"At least 19 people were killed and 70 wounded -- five of them grieviously," regional health minister Zerian Abdel Rahman told AFP at the site of the blast. "There were women and children among the casualties."
 

The blast damaged the front of Erbil's heavily guarded interior ministry and security department.

While insurgent car and truck bombings are an almost daily scourge in central Iraq, this was a rare incident in Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, which has been spared the bulk of the sectarian violence raging further south.

First Lieutenant Mariwan Kareem, from the local security forces, said the blast was caused by a truck packed with explosives and covered with kitchen cleaning products that were apparently intended to hide the payload.

The bomb in central Erbil, capital of Kurdistan, went off near the Kurdish government's interior ministry, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Television images showed Kurdish soldiers and police pulling wounded people from the rubble of a collapsed building.

The explosion at around 8 a.m. left a massive crater in the road, damaged vehicles, blew out windows and caused partial damage to some other buildings.

"I was near the site of the explosion. I saw fire coming out from the blast area. A man was burned to death," one witness said.

Bomb attacks are extremely rare in Iraq's autonomous oil-rich Kurdistan region, unlike the rest of the country which is engulfed by violence.

The attack comes at a time of political tension for ethnic Kurds, who are part of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's national government and staunch allies of the United States.

Some Kurdish politicians have expressed deep reservations over a landmark oil draft law that would distribute Iraq's vast oil wealth among the country's warring sects and groups.

Kurds are also pushing to hold a referendum on the final status of Kirkuk, an oil-producing city outside Kurdistan that is also claimed by Arabs.

 

Sunni Arabs, who were dominant under Saddam Hussein and now are the backbone of an insurgency fighting U.S. troops and the government in Baghdad, view Kurdish nationalism with mistrust.

A suicide bomber killed more than 60 people at the Kurdistan Democratic Party office in Erbil in May 2005 in an attack that was claimed by a militant Sunni Arab group.

That was the last bomb attack in the Kurdish region that residents can recall.

Just last month, officials said the Kurdistan regional government and a Dubai firm would build a $400 million "media city" in Erbil in the hope of luring international media groups to the more stable north.

Reuters | AP

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