Three people were killed and 79 others were wounded when a suicide bomber targeting security personnel detonated his explosives outside a Kirkuk bank. At least one man and two women were killed. Authorities reported that 26 policemen and 20 bank employees were among the wounded. Thirty neighboring buildings were damaged, along with 18 cars. The bomber took advantage of the many victims who were standing in line, waiting for their salaries. [Video]
The last major attack on security forces in Kirkuk occurred last May, when a triple bombing killed 27 people and wounded at least 90 more. In June, Governor Nejmeddine Karim called on American troops to stay in Kirkuk province beyond a Dec. 31 withdrawal date, over fears that sectarian violence will re-ignite. And last month, Arif Tayfur, who is the deputy speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, further warned that instability in the region is due to the lack of implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution.
Under Article 140, a reversal of the Arabization program carried out under the Saddam regime would be implemented. Then a referendum could decide if traditionally Kurdish areas of Kirkuk, Diyala, Salah ad-Din and Ninewa provinces would be annexed into Iraqi Kurdistan, which has enjoyed relatively peaceful conditions compared to the rest of Iraq.
Separately, US Army Major General David Perkins said today that U.S. troops are no longer needed in great numbers in northern Iraq. He leads about 5,000 troops who are stationed along the de facto border between Arab and Kurdish territories in northern Iraq. The troops were deployed there last year mostly to keep the peace between Arab and Kurdish security forces, not to keep civilians safe. Over the last 18 months, U.S. troops have successfully transitioned out of joint control of checkpoints.