Middle East

Northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk hit by bomb attacks

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Media captionTelevision pictures caught the moment one of the bombs exploded

Three bombs have exploded in the northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 70, police say.

The bombs went off within minutes of each other near a Kurdish security headquarters.

Two policemen are reported to be among the dead.

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

Kirkuk's police chief, Maj Gen Jamal Tahir, told the Associated Press news agency that a suicide bomber slammed his pickup truck into a wall surrounding the Kurdish security headquarters (Asayish) around 1000 local time (0700GMT).

The second explosion hit a few streets away, near a gas station, and the third bombing happened down the street from the first and was followed by gunshots.

These are reported to be the first big attacks in the city for about six months.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings but the BBC's Jonathan Head in Baghdad says the militant group Ansar al-Islam has made recent threats.

Kirkuk, which sits on a third of Iraq's oil reserves, is at the centre of a tract of disputed territory claimed by the central government in Baghdad as well as Kurdish authorities in the north.

The city is populated by Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen, and ethnic tensions have delayed a long-awaited national census that would determine the real numbers of the country's religious and ethnic groups.

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