A truck bomb explosion on Saturday killed up to 70 people, including many women and children, and injured more than 180 others in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, a local police source said on Sunday.
Wounded boys receive treatment at a hospital after a bomb attack in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, June 20, 2009. [Xinhua]
"The latest reports of yesterday's truck bombing said that 70 people were killed and more than 180 others were injured," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The attack took place after midday near al-Rasool mosque and a busy popular market in the old and impoverished Turkmen Shiite neighborhood of Taza in southwestern Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad.
The booby-trapped truck detonated while worshippers were leaving the mosque after observing the Muslim noon prayer, the source said.
The powerful explosion destroyed some 50 surrounding clay houses and buildings, burying many families under debris, the police said.
The police said they were investigating the incident to find how a truck packed with explosives could enter the neighborhood, while the surrounding checkpoints had orders to prevent trucks from entering the protected slum.
A resident talks to his wounded sister who lies in a hospital after a bomb attack in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, June 20, 2009.[Xinhua]
In Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemned the attack in a statement, saying "the ugly terrorist crime against our Turkmen brothers is only an attempt to destabilize the security and to show the Iraqi security force's incapability of taking control after the U.S. troops' withdrawal by the end of the month. "
Also on Saturday, Maliki told leaders of ethnic Turkmen minority during a meeting in Baghdad that the U.S. troops' withdrawal from Iraqi cities and towns by the end of this month will be a "great victory" for Iraqis.
(Xinhua News Agency June 21, 2009)