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Tensions in Iraqi City of Kirkuk Raise Security Concerns

Following a lull in violence in Iraq, bombings in the cities of Baghdad and Kirkuk killed dozens and wounded hundreds Monday. Analysts examine the state of security in Iraq and discuss the roots of ethnic and political tensions in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

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    Kirkuk was one of two cities in Iraq hit by violence today. Two dozen people were killed, nearly 200 were wounded when a female suicide bomber killed herself amid a crowd protesting Iraq's draft election law.

    The attack re-ignited longstanding tensions among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen, each blaming the other for the bombing. A citywide curfew followed the chaos.

    Kirkuk is on the edge of the territory controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government, but is prized by the Kurds, who consider it their capital. There's no recent official count, but U.S. officials believe Kurds comprise more than half the city's nearly 600,000 people, followed by Arabs and Turkmen.

    Kirkuk borders on some of Iraq's major oil reserves.

    Last week, Kurdish members walked out of the Iraqi parliament to protest an election law that would redistribute power in the country's 18 provinces, including a power-sharing arrangement for Kirkuk.

    Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani — himself a Kurd — vetoed the law. Provincial elections, planned for October and something the Bush administration has pushed for, were thrown into doubt.

    White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

  • DANA PERINO, White House Spokeswoman:

    The hope for an October time frame is unrealistic at this point, because the election law was vetoed by both of the — I think the president and the prime minister. So it goes back to the legislature and hopefully now that they can work out their differences.


    Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Kurdish claims of sovereignty over Kirkuk and the rest of Kurdistan have been the subject of much contention within the Iraqi government.