SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq – A car bomb struck a group of police recruits waiting to apply for jobs in a northern Iraqi city on Sunday, killing seven and wounding 17, a senior police commander said.
The recruits had gathered in a parking lot outside a military base about six miles outside the city of Kirkuk, where they were told to assemble to apply for police jobs with the state-run Northern Oil Co., said the city police commander Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir.
Qadir said all of the recruits were Sunni Muslims. He blamed the morning attack on al-Qaida but did not provide more specifics.
Kirkuk, about 180 miles north of Baghdad, has been an Iraq flashpoint for years. Iraqi Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen all claim rights to the city and the oil-rich land that surrounds it.
Kurdish leaders long have sought to draw Kirkuk into their self-rule region of Iraq’s three northernmost provinces, and have pushed for a census to determine the city’s ethnic majority. But the majority Arab central government in Baghdad has delayed the census, which could incite widespread ethnic violence over Kirkuk’s future.
Qadir said car bombs also struck two Sunni towns outside Kirkuk – Hawija and Ar Riyad – wounding seven people.
Sunday’s attacks come on the heels of a spate of bombings of three Shiite mosques in Kirkuk on Friday. Eight people were killed and 70 wounded in those attacks, which appeared timed to explode as worshippers were leaving the mosques after Friday prayers.