Attackers kill 33 at police HQ in disputed Iraqi city

Sun Feb 3, 2013 6:54am EST
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By Mustafa Mahmoud

KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - At least 33 people were killed in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Sunday when a suicide bomber detonated a truck packed with explosives outside a police headquarters and gunmen disguised as officers tried to storm the compound.

The blast was the third major attack in weeks in or near the multiethnic city of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, at the heart of a dispute between Iraq's central government and the autonomous Kurdistan region.

Police said the bomber triggered the huge blast near a side entrance to the police building, demolishing part of a government office nearby.

"A suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives hit the entrance of the headquarters and after the blast gunmen in explosive vests attacked with AK47s and grenades, but the guards killed them," a police official said.

Guards and emergency workers dragged bloodied survivors onto stretchers amid the wreckage of the blast, which left a large crater in the street.

Police said 33 were killed, including 12 employees at the government office. But a health official said only 16 bodies were at a hospital morgue and more than 90 were wounded.

The attack comes as insurgents linked to al Qaeda try to inflame sectarian conflict in Iraq, where a power-sharing government split among Shi'ite majority, Sunni and ethnic Kurds has been in crisis since the last U.S. troops left a year ago.

"TWO-FRONT" CRISIS   Continued...

Iraqi security personnel are seen at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad February 3, 2013. A suicide bomber driving a car and gunmen disguised in police uniforms killed at least 33 people in the Iraqi city Kirkuk on Sunday when they tried to storm the police headquarters. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed