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Iraq suicide bomber kills 20
June 20, 2005 13:41 IST
The bomber joined the gathering of some 200 traffic policemen in a courtyard at 8 am, police Col. Mohammed Saleh and Lt. Col. Abdul-Salam Zibari said.
The attack occurred on a main street that leads to the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, which is south of Irbil, police said.
Irbil is one of two major cities in Iraq's northern Kurdish region. The area has been largely sheltered from the incessant violence wracking the remainder of Iraq, but has seen several major bombings blamed on militant Muslim groups.
The bombing came a day after Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said there are many relatively stable areas in Iraq, such as Irbil and Basra in southern Iraq.
Iraq's Kurds make up 15 percent to 20 percent of Iraq's estimated 26 million people. The community had been oppressed for decades by Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, but has been empowered since Saddam Hussein's ouster two years ago.
Iraq's new president, Jalal Talabani, is a Kurd.
Monday's attack came amid a surge in violence since the Shia-led government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was announced April 28.
On Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a popular Baghdad restaurant, killing 23 people, including policemen.