Suicide truck bomber kills 20 in Iraq

The blast in Wardek, about 390 km north of Baghdad, seemed calculated to fan ethnic tensions between Kurds and Arabs, whose politicians are embroiled in a bitter dispute over claims to territory and oil. Women and children were among the dead and at least 25 houses in the village were damaged or destroyed, police said. 

Another truck bomber tried to set off a second blast but local Kurdish Peshmerga forces opened fire and killed him before he reached the village’s outskirts, police said.

Wardek is 30 km east of the volatile northern city of Mosul, in Nineveh province, where Sunni Arab insurgents such as al Qaeda and former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party are making a last stand after being driven out of their past strongholds in Baghdad and western Iraq.

US officials say insurgents are increasingly seeking ways to attack Kurds in ethnically mixed parts of northern Iraq in a bid to foment ethnic violence between them and Arabs at a time of rising tensions over land disputes.

“The ultimate aim of these bombings is to kill all Iraqis, not just Arabs or Kurds: everyone,” said Yahya Mahjoob, a member of the Nineveh provincial council. “They want to stir unrest, to sow the seeds of division among Iraqis. We won’t accept that.”

He said certain political parties in Nineveh were behind the bombings, although he declined to name any. Arabs and Kurds in the province often trade blame after bombings.

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