A car bomb explosion has killed three civilians and wounded nine in Iraq’s Kirkuk, where local Kurdish authorities plan to hold a referendum on independence from Baghdad later this month despite opposition from the central government and many other countries.
A security official said the blast apparently targeted stores selling alcohol and caused damage to them and sparked a fire in three vehicles.
Kirkuk is the capital of the oil-rich province of the same name which is disputed by the federal government in Baghdad and the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
An Iraqi interior ministry statement described the attack as “terrorist aggression” and did not link it to the tension caused by the Kurdish plan to hold an independence referendum on September 25.
In open defiance of Baghdad’s strong disapproval of the referendum, 65 out of the 68 Kurdish lawmakers present in the regional parliament on Friday voted in favor of the September 25 polls as opposition legislators boycotted the parliament’s first session in two years.
The plan for the non-binding Kurdish referendum was approved in the Iraqi city of Erbil, the capital of a northern province with the same name, in the 111-seat parliament consisting of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Iraq’s former president, Jalal Talabani, and the independent Goran and Jamaa Islamiya opposition parties.
Iran, Turkey, and Syria also oppose the idea of an independent Kurdistan. In June, Tehran expressed opposition to the “unilateral” scheme for independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan, underlining the importance of maintaining the integrity and stability of Iraq and insisting that the Kurdistan region was part of the majority Arab country.
Turkey has also censured efforts to establish an independent Kurdistan as “a grave mistake.” Ankara says potential creation of an independent Kurdish state in its backyard would further embolden Turkey’s homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants toward an even stiffer confrontation with the government.
Several other countries in the region are concerned that such a referendum could ignite a fresh conflict with Baghdad and possibly neighboring countries, diverting attention from the ongoing war against Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
Click here to read the full article.