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article imageMarketplace Bomb Overshadows US Troop Withdrawals in Iraq

By Chris Dade     Jun 30, 2009 in World
With a national holiday being celebrated in Iraq to mark the handover by US troops to Iraqi forces, there was a reminder again of the fragile situation that still exists there.
Exact numbers are still unclear, Reuters report that at least 20 have been killed and a further 25 have been wounded while France 24 claims that a senior police officer has confirmed a death toll of at least 26 with up to 56 more wounded; but what does seem almost certain is that the car bomb detonated in the Shurja market place in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk is designed to remind the US and Iraqi authorities alike that there are still insurgent groups willing and able to launch deadly attacks.
That Kirkuk has been the scene once more of such terrible loss of life, 10 days ago 70 people were killed in the city by a truck bomb that was the worst incident of it's kind in Iraq for more than 12 months, is perhaps not coincidental as the city is home to several different ethnic groups and also stands at the center of the oil industry in the northern part of Iraq. Unrest in such a place would appear to be in the interests of the insurgent groups.
Al-Qaeda are just one of those groups who may have been responsible for the attack in what was said to be a predominantly Kurdish district of the city. Other communities with a large presence in Kirkuk include Turkmens, Arabs and Christians. But it is the Kurds who form the majority in the city and there have been past disagreements with the government in Baghdad over whether Kirkuk would become a part of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region, which presently it is not.
As National Sovereignty Day, the name given to the national holiday declared by the authorities, got under way in Iraq there must have been fears that an attack of this nature may happen. One of the hopes now must be that the Iraqi security forces can prevent and deal with future incidents without over-reliance on the US forces who will still have some kind of presence in their country until the end of 2011.
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