Blast at Iraq restaurant kills 47

A suspected suicide bomber has killed at least 47 people at a restaurant near 
the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, police say.

Around 102 people were injured in the explosion at the Kurdish restaurant, some 
5km (three miles) north of the city, police told the BBC.

The reason for the attack is not yet clear but Kirkuk is home to a mix of 
Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens.

The blast came as Muslims celebrated the Eid-al-Adha holiday.

Families were eating lunch in the Abdullah restaurant, located on the main road 
to Irbil, when it happened.

A suicide bomber activated an explosives belt in the middle of the restaurant, 
officials and at least one witness say, although one interior ministry official 
was quoted as saying a car bomb was the cause.

There were also unconfirmed reports that Kurdish officials were also in the 
restaurant having lunch with Arab tribal leaders at the time.

A branch of the same restaurant in Kirkuk was itself hit by a car bomb last 
year, with 25 people killed.

Bereaved families

People wounded in Thursday's attack were taken to Kirkuk's main hospital, with 
30 of them in a serious condition, an AFP news agency reporter says.

As the authorities appealed for blood donors, the reporter met families 
bereaved by the blast.

Outside the emergency room, a five-year-old boy was crying, saying he had lost 
both of his parents.

Reskiya Oji, a 49-year-old Turkmen who was wounded in the arm and the leg, said 
from a hospital bed that her daughter, four, had been killed and she did not 
know the fate of her two sons.

Rezkar Mahmoud, a 24-year-old Kurd who was wounded in the leg, said he had been 
having lunch with his father, wife and children.

"The restaurant was full when the bomb exploded," he said. "It sent glass 
flying and destroyed the walls.

"I don't know where my children and my father are."

The deputy head of Kirkuk's provincial council, Rebwar Talabani, said the 
restaurant had been popular with politicians.

"It was packed with people who go there because it's safer [than other 
restaurants]," he told al-Jazeera TV.

"All kinds of people would go there, even politicians would hold their big 
meetings there."

Disputed region

Although violent incidents in Iraq as a whole have dropped sharply this year, 
the area around the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul remains dangerous, the 
BBC's Humphrey Hawksley reports from Baghdad.

Mosul has become a stronghold for al-Qaeda inspired insurgents who have been 
driven out of many other parts of the country, he says.

And tension is so high in Kirkuk that provincial elections planned for most of 
Iraq next year will not be held in the city, our correspondent adds.

Control of oil-rich Kirkuk is disputed between Iraqi Arabs, Kurds and ethnic 

Iraqi Kurds believe they should control the city, which has a Kurdish majority 
but which lies outside their semi-autonomous northern enclave.

But the ethnic Arabs and Turkmen say it should be under the control of the 
central government.

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Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/12/11 14:27:20 GMT


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