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String of attacks across Iraq kill at least 31

By ADAM SCHRECK The Associated Press

This article was published January 16, 2013 at 7:50 a.m.

— A suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives blew himself up outside the offices of a major Kurdish party in northern Iraq early Wednesday, the deadliest in a wave of morning attacks that killed at least 31 people across the country.

The violence comes amid rising tensions among Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian groups that threaten to plunge the country back into chaos nearly a decade after the U.S.-led invasion. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, car bombs and coordinated attacks are favorite tactics of Sunni insurgents, such as al-Qaida’s Iraq branch. They seek to exacerbate divisions within Iraq in an effort to undermine the Shiite-led government.

The car bomb outside the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in downtown Kirkuk caused widespread damage, mangling cars and tearing apart storefronts on a busy commercial street. The party is led by Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region, who has frequently sparred with Iraq’s central government in Baghdad.

Sadeeq Omar Rasoul, the head of Kirkuk health directorate, said 17 people were killed in the blast. Another car bomb that exploded nearby killed another two people. At least 190 were wounded in the two attacks, he said.

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