by Marwan Ibrahim
Published — Monday 4 February 2013
Last update 4 February 2013 8:58 am
KIRKUK: A suicide car bomb followed by an assault by grenade-throwing gunmen on a police headquarters in a disputed ethnically mixed city in north Iraq killed 30 people yesterday.
The vehicle that was detonated in central Kirkuk had been painted to make it look like a police car, and the militants who sought to seize the compound were dressed as policemen, witnesses said.
The attack shattered a relative calm in Iraq, which has been grappling with a political crisis pitting Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki against his erstwhile government partners amid weeks of ongoing protests calling for him to resign, all less than three months before key provincial elections.
The initial suicide car bomb was set off during morning rush hour, and was quickly followed by at least three gunmen dressed in police uniforms, armed with hand grenades and suicide vests, bursting through the main gate of the Kirkuk police compound in the direction of the headquarters building.
They threw multiple grenades as they sought to reach the building, but were killed before they could get there, witnesses said.
Brig. Gen. Natah Mohammed Sabr, the head of Kirkuk city’s emergency services, put the toll at 30 dead and 70 wounded. Among those hurt was Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qader, commander of police forces for areas surrounding the city.
“I saw a vehicle stop at the checkpoint at the main entrance, and the police started checking it,” said Kosrat Hassan Karim, who was nearby when the attack took place.
“Suddenly, a loud explosion happened, it was terrifying.
“I saw many people killed inside their cars — I have never seen such a big explosion in my life.”
The attack caused massive damage to nearby buildings and shops.