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Iraq Car, Truck Bombs Kill 80, Hurt 180 in Kirkuk

Bloomberg | July 16, 2007
Camilla Hall and Robin Stringer

Twin bomb attacks in Iraq's northern oil hub of Kirkuk killed at least 80 people and wounded 180 in one of the worst bomb attacks in the country this year.

A truck bomb smashed into the office of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party office. The second, a car bomb, hit a nearby market, Kirkuk police chief Jamal Tahar told state television. Smoke billowed from a crater and fire crews struggled to extinguish nearby cars that ignited in the blast, footage aired on state television showed.

Kirkuk, 235 kilometers (146 miles) north of Baghdad, and its surrounding areas have been hit by two of the deadliest bomb attacks in Iraq this year. On July 7, a truck bomb packed with 4 tons of explosives killed about 140 people and wounded 250 others in a crowded market in the nearby village of Ermeli.

The center of northern Iraq's oil industry, Kirkuk is a city of mixed Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen populations. The parliament is due to hold a referendum before the end of the year to decide whether the city will be included in the borders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

Further south, the U.S. military today began an offensive to stem insurgent activity in southern Baghdad.

Operation ``Marne Avalanche'' is aimed at improving security in the area by preventing the movement of ``weapons, munitions and insurgents into Baghdad,'' the U.S. military said today in an e-mailed statement.

The military has increased security operations since deploying about 30,000 additional personnel to Iraq since January.

Roadside Bombs

Two U.S. soldiers were killed by roadside bombs in the last two days. A soldier died from injuries sustained in an attack in the northwestern province of Ninawa yesterday, and another soldier was killed near Baghdad on July 14, the U.S. military said today and late yesterday in e-mailed statements.

Some 3,611 U.S. personnel have died in Iraq, of whom 2,967 were killed in action. More than 26,600 have been wounded, 12,014 of them so seriously that they couldn't return to duty, according to the Department of Defense Web site.

U.S. President George W. Bush rejected demands from lawmakers in how own political party to develop contingency plans for the Iraq war, including a withdrawal of American forces on July 14.

The House of Representatives voted 223-201 on July 12 to require withdrawal of most U.S. combat troops from Iraq by April 1. The Senate is scheduled to vote on a similar measure next week.

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