Kurdish leaders urge for joint protection of Kirkuk following deadly bombings
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Senior Kurdish leaders strongly condemned Thursday’s deadly series of bombings that killed and injured dozens of civilians in the disputed province of Kirkuk, urging for the area’s security to be jointly administered with Erbil to combat the threat of terrorism.
On Thursday night, six explosions rocked Kirkuk. It was first reported that at least five people were killed and around 20 more injured, but on Friday, Iraq’s Ministry of Health announced that the bombings had killed two people and injured 38 others, including children and women.
Iraq’s Security Media Cell also stated they had defused two other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the area.
Masoud Barzani, the President of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the former President of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, in a statement, strongly condemned the bombings.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kirkuk following the series of terrorist attacks. It is crucial for there to be a joint effort by both Kurdistan and the Iraqi govt. to manage the affairs of the city of Kirkuk so that its culture of peaceful coexistence continues,” Barzani said on his Twitter account Friday early morning.
The bombings occurred on busy streets as people were shopping and preparing for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kirkuk following the series of terrorist attacks. It is crucial for there to be a joint effort by both Kurdistan and the Iraqi govt. to manage the affairs of the city of Kirkuk so that its culture of peaceful coexistence continues— Masoud Barzani (@masoud_barzani) May 30, 2019
Kirkuk is one of the disputed areas claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq.
Security in the province has considerably deteriorated after Iraqi forces and Shia militias, in a military operation on Oct. 16, 2017, drove the Kurdish Peshmerga and security forces out of Kirkuk in the wake of the Kurdistan Region’s referendum on independence in which Kirkuk was also included.
Nechirvan Barzani, the President-elect of the Kurdistan Region, also released a statement condemning the bombings.
“The continuation and increasing number of terrorist activities in Kirkuk and surrounding areas are dangerous signs of a resurgence of terror and destabilizing the region,” Barzani continued.
“Combating these terrorist acts requires more help and cooperation between the concerned authorities of the federal government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Both sides should address it seriously.”
It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the province since the beginning of this year.
Oil-rich and ethnically diverse Kirkuk is home for Arabs, Turkmen, and Christians with a Kurdish majority.
Kosrat Rasul, the deputy and acting head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the second-largest party in the Kurdistan Region, also condemned the terrorist act in Kirkuk and said it is the duty of the Iraqi government and local security forces to bring the perpetrators to justice.
He asserted terrorist attacks are “the main obstacles” to the peaceful coexistence between the different components of Kirkuk and the normalization of situation in the province.
“I ask all the political parties to work together to protect the lives of people and stabilize the situation in Kirkuk and other Kurdistani areas in a way that allows for the Peshmerga and security forces of the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi army to fully cooperate,” Rasul said.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but the attacks are similar to those previously carried out in the country by Islamic State militants.
Following the formation of the new Iraqi federal government in October of last year, the Kurdish Ministry of Peshmerga and Iraqi military commanders have held two high-level meetings to increase cooperation and coordination between the two agencies, but little progress has been seen in this regard.
Editing by Nadia Riva