Three bombs targeting security forces in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk have left at least 29 people dead and injured dozens more on Thursday 05/19/2011 morning. Overall, at least 70 people were wounded, officials said. Two of the bombs exploded in quick succession near a police station (see also – Kirkuk 06.20.09).

Many of the casualties were police officers who rushed outside after the first bomb went off in the police station car park and were hit by a much larger bomb. About an hour after the explosions near the police station, a third blast nearby was reported to have targeted the convoy of a senior police official, injuring him and a number of officers.

The police chief of Kirkuk province, Maj Gen Jamal Tahir, said the bombings bore the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda attack. “It is a joint operation between al-Qaeda and the armed groups allied with them,” he said. Thursday morning’s attacks were the most deadly the city has seen for some months.

Kirkuk lies in an oil-rich and ethnically divided area where Kurdish authorities are vying for control with the central government in Baghdad. The city is populated by Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen (see -ETHNIC IRAQ).

US forces, who are due to withdraw from Iraq later this year, have been conducting  patrols in Kirkuk with central government forces and Kurdish authorities (see – IRAQ-US DEAL).

While violence has decreased in Iraq in the last few years, attacks are still frequent and government or security officials are often targets.
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