Deadly Bombings Rock Iraq City of Kirkuk
DEBORAH AMOS, host:
This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Deborah Amos.
NOAH ADAMS, host:
And I'm Noah Adams.
In Iraq, massive explosions rocked the northern city of Kirkuk. A series of bombs detonated in front of a political party office and at an outdoor market. The number of deaths is estimated at between 70 and 85. More that 150 are reported wounded.
NPR's Jamie Tarabay joins us from Baghdad. What else do we know about today's events there in Kirkuk?
JAMIE TARABAY: We know that the first bomb - that there was a massive truck bomb. It detonated around noon. It left a 30-foot-deep crater in the street where it went off. And it also damaged 10 shops nearby as well as the roof of the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is the political party of Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq. And about 20 odd minutes later, not too far away, an outdoor market, there was a bomb that went off there. And then just a few hours after that there was a bomb that went off in southern Kirkuk.
The general feeling is that these bombs were all detonated by Sunni insurgents who have been pushed out of Baghdad in the last few weeks and months because of this military surge in the capital. And they've moved outside of the capital to continue operations.
ADAMS: The city is - this is the bloodiest day ever reported in Kirkuk. The city has a mix of Kurds, as you say, Sunnis and Shiites. What's the underlying tension?
TARABAY: The Kurds lay claim to Kirkuk. They claim it as part of Kurdistan and there's a - supposed to be this process in place this year to determine the status of Kirkuk. There were all these steps that are meant to be taken, normalization, you know, resettling people who were evicted from Kirkuk while Saddam was in charge. He brought in Arabs and put them in Kirkuk and threw out the Kurds. And there's also supposed to be provincial elections and a census taken to see exactly who belongs in Kirkuk and who doesn't. And these benchmarks were supposed to have happened and nothing has happened yet.
There have been some small elements of violence, you know, some drive-by shootings, a few bombs - but nothing on a scale of this. And it only seems to increase the tension as we get closer to the dates of these landmark events.
ADAMS: Jamie, the - in the larger political view, the parliament, as you know, was supposed to meet again today, and again today they did not. Why? What's the reason for that?
TARABAY: Well, very bizarrely, they - most of them turned up. Usually if the parliament doesn't meet, it's because they don't have the numbers. But this time they turned up, but they decided to cancel the session because there was no electricity in the convention center building. People were stumbling along in the dark. There was no air conditioning. So it was oppressively hot inside. And then they just decided to reconvene tomorrow. It was truly bizarre.
ADAMS: There has been talk there of a no confidence vote against the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Any chance of that happening?
TARABAY: Well, in - we spoke to some parliamentarians today to see what their position was. The reports were that the Tawafuq front, which is a Sunni political party, would put forward this no confidence vote. But the people that we speak to say that even if they tried, they don't have the numbers to carry the vote through.
ADAMS: NPR's Jamie Tarabay talking with us from Baghdad. Thank you, Jamie.
TARABAY: You're welcome.