Today, July 28 a suicide bomber attacked a crowd of thousands of Kurds who were protesting the provincial election law in the northern city of Kirkuk. The bombing killed 24 people. The protestors turned angry afterwards and charged the headquarters of the Iraqi Turkoman Front, burning it to the ground. A Kurdish politician claimed that shots were fired from the offices into the crowd. An Arab member of the Tamim provincial council said that his house was destroyed as well by the mob. He threatened to call in Sunni Sons of Iraq units to protect the Arab population of Kirkuk, while the Turkoman Front said that Baghdad needed to send in troops to secure the city’s Arab and Turkoman population from the Kurdish Pershmerga security forces. A Kurdish member of parliament said that the political blocs that passed the election law bore responsibility for the bombing and casualties.
It was unclear whether the bomber was a woman or not. An Iraqi police general said that he had found a woman’s remains, while the U.S. said they had no evidence to support that. A car bomb was also found nearby and it was destroyed. In total 170 people were injured. The police imposed a curfew on Kirkuk to restore order after the disturbances. No group has claimed responsibility for the act, but the U.S. believes that it is Al Qaeda in Iraq that has been using woman bombers more and more this year. If it was a woman, this would be the 27th such attack this year.
The ethnic tensions that exploded afterwards were probably just the response the masterminds behind the bombing wanted. The disputed city of Kirkuk is the major reason why the Presidential Council vetoed the election law that was passed by parliament just a few days ago. The law called for a six-month delay in voting in Kirkuk’s Tamim province, and in the meantime seats on the provincial council were to be divided evenly between Kurds, Arabs, and Turkoman, with one seat going to Christians. The Kurds opposed this clause because they currently control the governorship, head of the council, and a majority of its seats, plus they are most likely a majority in the province. The Kurdish bloc in parliament stormed out during the vote, and the Kurdish President Jalal Talabni along with the Shiite Vice President Adel Abdel-Mahdi of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council ended up vetoing it.
BBC News, “Iraq suicide blasts cause carnage,” 7/28/08
Gamel, Kim, “Female suicide attackers kill 57 in Iraq,” Associated Press, 7/28/08
Raghavan, Sudarsan, “Dozens Kill in Iraq Suicide Bombings,” Washington Post, 7/28/08
Spangler, Nicholas and Kadhim, Hussein, “Iraqi bombings kill dozens, wound more than 200,” McClatchy Newspapers, 7/28/08
Voices of Iraq, “Blocs that drafted provincial election bill responsible for Kirkuk incidents – Kurdish lawmaker,” 7/28/08