Authorities in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk told CNN that at least four people were killed and more than 40 others were injured there when three car bombs exploded Tuesday.
Control over the oil-rich city is a matter of contention between the Kurdish and central government of Iraq. CNN reported that clashes between Kurdish forces, called Peshmerga, and federal troops erupted last week in and around Kirkuk province and the so-called disputed territories, an area demarcated by a line from Sinjar in the northeast to Khanaqin near the Iranian border.
Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington was encouraged by reports that both sides were sitting down to find a political solution to the crisis.
"We look forward to their continuing to work through these issues in a political manner so that we don't have any kind of a confrontation," she said.
U.S. military forces left Iraq in December under the terms of a status of forces agreement.
Joost Hiltermann, director of the International Crisis Group, told National Public Radio this week that Kurdish leaders may be bolstered by oil riches in the area. Iraq, however, is unlikely to divide "at least, not now."
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