attacks in northern Iraqi city kill 11, wound 70
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[December 05, 2013]
BAGHDAD (Reuters) — Gunmen and
suicide bombers attacked a police intelligence headquarters and a nearby
shopping mall in a coordinated attack in the northern city of Kirkuk
late on Wednesday, killing 11 people and wounding 70, police and medical
Two suicide bombers armed with sniper rifles entered the shopping
complex, took control of it and captured around 15 shoppers as
hostages, police said.
After a gun battle, one suicide bomber blew himself up and the other
was shot dead by Kurdish security forces who took over the operation
from local police. One hostage was wounded, police said.
"I was inside my home when there was a big explosion, our house was
shaking and the windows shattered," said a man who gave his name as
Abu Ahmed who lives next to the mall.
He saw several attackers carrying weapons heading towards the mall.
"Dozens of women, men and children went out and some of them came to
my house," he said, adding he heard a gun battle which continued
into the night.
Iraqi state television showed smoke billowing from the building
after security forces detonated additional bombs the attackers had
left inside the complex.
Earlier, a health official said suicide bombers and gunmen attacked
a nearby police intelligence headquarters, killing at least six
people and wounding dozens more.
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No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in
Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, but Sunni Muslim
insurgents linked to al Qaeda have regularly used suicide attacks on
targets linked to the Shi'ite-led government and security services
since the start of 2013.
Areas around Kirkuk are strongholds of al Qaeda, according to
security officials, in a region which both the central government
and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan claim as theirs, making a coordinated
police response difficult.
On Tuesday, 12 people were killed in two similar attacks in northern
Iraq targeting a government complex and a police building.
Violence in Iraq has intensified alongside the conflict in
neighboring Syria and is expected to escalate further before a
parliamentary election in April next year.
(Reporting by Suadad al-Salhy in Baghdad and Mustafa Mahmoud in
Kirkuk, Writing by Sylvia Westall, editing by Elizabeth Piper)