Suicide bomber posing as dairy deliveryman strikes Kurdish security headquarters
Iraqi firefighters extinguish a fire in a destroyed building after a car bomb attack in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. Car bombs ripped through the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Wednesday, killing several and wounding scores of people in the heart of a region of long-simmering ethnic tensions. (Photo credit: Emad Matti / AP)
By Lara Jakes and Yahya Barzanji
February 9, 2011
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq — A suicide bomber posing as a dairy deliveryman struck a Kurdish security headquarters Wednesday, setting off a series of rapid-fire attacks against the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk that killed seven and wounded up to 80 people.
Within minutes, two more bombs exploded nearby, sending dark plumes of smoke into the clear winter sky and ending a six-month lull in violence in a city rife with simmering ethnic tensions 180 miles north of Baghdad.
The city is divided between Kurds, Turkomen and Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and has long been feared to be a possible new flashpoint in Iraq. …
Kirkuk’s police chief, Maj. Gen. Jamal Tahir, said the suicide bomber got close to the Asayish headquarters by claiming to be a deliveryman on his way to pick up milk at an ice cream shop next door. Instead, the bomber slammed his pickup truck into a blast wall surrounding the headquarters around 10 a.m., sending flames through the building and damaging its front facade.
The second explosion hit a few blocks away, near a gas station. AP Television News footage showed police cars with blaring sirens racing to the headquarters when the third blast exploded, just down the street from the suicide bomber.
Car bomb knocks cameraman to ground (MSNBC, Feb. 9, 2011) – An explosion in Kirkuk, Iraq, knocks a news cameraman off his feet. MSNBC.com’s Al Stirrett reports. (00:44)
The third bombing knocked people to the ground, and was immediately followed by gunshots. …
In addition to being an epicenter for ethnic tensions, Kirkuk also sits on top of one-third of Iraq’s estimated $11 trillion in oil reserves, and Arabs fear the Kurds want to annex the city to their northern autonomous region.
Last summer, Gen. Ray Odierno, who was then the top American military commander in Iraq, said U.N. peacekeeping forces may need to replace departing U.S. troops in disputed region if the feud between Arabs and minority Kurds continues through this year. His comments underscored the fragility of the area’s security — and the dangers if it is disrupted — although U.N. officials have not embraced his suggestion. …
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marc Krugh, left, from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, looks on as a comrade peers through the scope on his weapon during a patrol near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, on Jan. 25, 2011. The White House says the U.S. combat mission in Iraq is over, but American soldiers feel anything but safe. (Photo credit: Maya Alleruzzo / AP)
By Lara Jakes
February 8, 2011
BAGHDAD — The White House says the U.S. combat mission in Iraq is over, but Army Lt. Daniel McCord and his fellow American soldiers feel anything but safe.
Their base has been shelled 28 times since Sept. 1, the day after President Barack Obama officially ended Operation Iraqi Freedom. They carefully watch cars that speed too close to their convoy on highways, wary of suicide bombers who might try to penetrate their armored trucks. Even an Iraqi kid carrying a pellet gun is seen as a threat.
With daily shootings and deadly bombings, it’s clear there’s still a simmering fight in Iraq as the U.S. military prepares to leave after nearly eight years, almost 4,400 U.S. troops killed and at least $750 billion spent. …
Asked if he thinks Iraq is stable, McCord said: “I’d be crazy to say it’s safe. Is it better than it was? Yes. But it’s probably still going to take some time for the government of Iraq to establish the security they want. There are still bad guys here doing bad things.” …
Six American soldiers have died in Iraq so far this year, and 18 since the announced end of the U.S. combat mission Sept. 1. …
Since Sept. 1, 97 U.S. soldiers have been awarded Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Iraq, including 25 so far this year, according to U.S. military data. …
Earlier this month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned that U.S. diplomats and State Department employees and contractors may not be safe in Iraq if U.S. combat troops leave. A newly released nationwide poll, funded in part by the State Department, indicates that 57 percent of Iraqis think their country is moving in the wrong direction and that security remains the single worst problem. …
A steady string of bombings in a two-week period last month killed more than 200 Iraqis, including at least 51 at a Shiite funeral in Baghdad that triggered a small revolt by mourners who pelted security forces with debris. That scene drew comparisons to much larger anti-government demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt. …
Related reports on this site
An Iraqi Army soldier stands guard in central Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, July 5, 2009. Iraqis were skeptical that much would change after the previous week’s pullback of U.S. combat troops from Baghdad and other cities. (Photo credit: Hadi Mizban / AP)
Iraqi Soldier Kills U.S. Trainers (Jan. 15, 2011)
Slight Dip in Iraq Death Toll (Dec. 29, 2010)
Insurgents Coming Back in Iraq (Dec. 5, 2010)
Iraq Civilian Deaths at 2-Year High (Aug. 1, 2010)
Quarter Million Dead, Wounded in Iraq (Oct. 14, 2009)
Sustained Iraqi Insurgency (Aug. 12, 2009)
Deadly June for Iraqis (July 5, 2009)
Iraq: May Deadliest in 8 Months (May 29, 2009)
Iraqi Security Forces Stumbling (May 8, 2009)
Iraq Exit Will Be Long and Hard (March 7, 2009)
Sharp Increase in Iraq Violence (May 7, 2009)
U.S. Death Toll Doubles in Iraq (May 1, 2009)
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — February 9, 2010
Remembering Rep. John Murtha (NBC Nightly News, Feb. 8, 2010) – Rep. John Murtha, one of the most powerful members of Congress and Pennsylvania’s longest-serving congressmen, died Tuesday from complications following gallbladder surgery. He was 77. (00:43)
One year ago today, I provided my weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and reported on the death of retired United States Marines colonel Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — February 9, 2009
Two years ago today, on Feb. 9, 2009, I featured live streaming video of the trial to decide the winner of the Coleman-Franken contest for U.S. Senate.
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