Kirkuk: Twin bombs that appeared timed to lure policemen out of their fortified headquarters in a northern Iraqi city killed 27 people yesterday, most of them police officers.
Scores were wounded in the double blasts in Kirkuk, and a third explosion 45 minutes later on a road to a city hospital brought the number of injured to at least 70, said provincial health director Seddiq Omar.
The ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, claimed by Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, is one of the more politically volatile parts of the country. US officials have long worried about what will happen in the city and region when American forces pull out of Iraq, as they're scheduled to do by the end of this year.
Eyewitness Adnan Karim described "a chaos of terror and fear" at a parking lot outside the police compound in central Kirkuk where the first two bombs went off.
"I saw a lot of dead bodies, burned dead bodies," said Karim, who owns a small shop about 100 metres from the police building and ran to the parking lot after the first explosion. The second one came about three minutes later, he said, and then "ambulances began to evacuate casualties of dead bodies and injured people."
At one hospital, bloodied and bandaged victims lay on the floor because the beds were already filled with patients. A patient blackened by the smoke from one of the explosions sat on a hospital bed, his head bandaged and bloodied. Around him a chaotic scene unfolded as doctors and nurses tended to patients and security officials brought in more victims.
A police truck pulled into the hospital driveway with four bodies lying in the bed of the truck. It was not clear whether they were alive or dead.
Kirkuk police Captain Abdul Salam Zangana said the first explosion around 9am was a bomb stuck to a car in the parking lot, which sent policemen rushing outside their secure headquarters compound to investigate. That's when the second blast hit, Zangana said.
The double blasts killed 27 people, most of them policemen, and wounded more than 62, he said.