Kirkuk officials ask for security help

July 29, 2008 at 7:09 AM

KIRKUK, Iraq, July 29 (UPI) -- Kirkuk's provisional leaders issued pleas for Iraqi troops and a U.N. peacekeeping force for the city, where a suicide bombing killed at least 17 people.

In one of the bloodiest shows of violence in a year, at least 61 people died and 238 were wounded in suicide bombings Monday in Kirkuk and Baghdad, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Nearly all the victims were Kurdish political protesters in Kirkuk and Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad.

The provincial governor of Kirkuk asked that a brigade of Iraqi troops be sent to the city, while Turkmen provincial council members sought the presence of U.N. peacekeeping forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a battalion of Iraqi troops to Kirkuk and put other troops on alert, state-run television reported Monday.

A suicide bomber detonated a device in a crowd of protesters, killing at least 17 demonstrators and wounding 47 others, Iraqi security officials said. While no one claimed responsibility for the bombing, many blamed Turkmen extremists and set fire to Turkmen buildings and wounding at least 25 Turkman guards, Kirkuk police said.

In Baghdad, female suicide bombers struck minutes apart, killing 32 people who were marching to participate in a religious festival. At least 64 people were wounded, police said.

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