Middle East

Suicide attack in Iraq kills 10 outside political office

Scene of blast in Kirkuk (16/01/13)
Image caption Kirkuk is claimed by Iraq's Kurds and Arab-dominated government

At least 10 people have been killed in a bomb attack on a political office in northern Iraq, officials say.

More than 90 people are reported to have been injured in the attack on offices of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) in the city of Kirkuk.

The KDP is led by the president of the largely autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani.

Police say the blast was caused by a vehicle driven by a suicide bomber and caused considerable damage.

Police Brigadier Sarhat Qadir said the area was crowded when the attacker struck.

Kirkuk is the most bitterly contested of Iraq's disputed territories, claimed by both the Kurdish region and Baghdad.

The area, which contains vast reserves of oil, is currently controlled by the Arab-dominated central government in Baghdad.

The BBC's Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad says Wednesday's attack seems to send a political message.

Kirkuk is rich not just in oil, but in symbolic importance, and seen by Kurdish nationalists as a crucial part of any future Kurdish state, he says.

As always, the identity of the perpetrators remains unknown, and so too will any political aims behind the attack, leaving the doors wide open to speculation, our correspondent adds.

Baghdad and the Kurdish authorities had been planning to hold talks over the disputed territory.

Although sectarian violence has decreased in Iraq since the height of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007, attacks are still common.

Sunni insurgents linked to al-Qaeda have been blamed for much of the recent violence in Iraq.

Two more people were killed and 20 others wounded in a second attack outside the offices of another political party in Tuz Khurmato 55 miles (85km) to the south.