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Dozens killed in Iraq bombing as US troops withdraw


Baghdad : A car bomb in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk killed dozens and wounded at least 18 as US troops withdrew from Iraqi cities and towns Tuesday night, witnesses said.

According to witnesses, the explosion took place in a heavily Kurdish neighbourhood of the disputed city. They estimated that perhaps 25 people had been killed and 18 others had been wounded in the blast.

The attack took place as Iraqi security forces were on high alert as US soldiers were completing their withdrawal from Iraqi cities and towns, and amid the largest deployment of Iraqi police and soldiers since the 2003 US-led invasion.

Hours earlier, Ezzat Ibrahim al-Duri, Saddam Hussein’s former deputy and now the purported leader of the banned Baath Party, vowed he would “continue to escalate the fighting until our country is fully liberated”, celebrating the partial US withdrawal as “a glorious, historic victory”.

Many Iraqi Kurds hope to make Kirkuk, with its rich oil reserves, the capital of a future, independent Kurdish state. Baghdad views the city as an integral part of Iraq, and the Baathist government tried to change the ethnic composition of the city by forcing Kurds out and moving Arabs in from elsewhere in the country.

The Iraqi government has repeatedly delayed discussion of Kirkuk’s status. The area did not vote in last January’s provincial council elections because officials deemed its stability as too fragile.