KIRKUK, Iraq, May 19 (UPI) -- Back-to-back bomb blasts in the restive northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk killed at least 27 people and wounded another 70 Thursday, officials said.
The first bomb, hidden in a car, injured eight people when it exploded in a parking lot used by police and intelligence officers, the Los Angeles Times reported. As police and others ran to assist the injured, the attackers detonated a second car bomb, which killed 27 people, witnesses and security officials said.
The dead and wounded included Arabs and Kurds, all of whom serve on the province's mixed police force, officials said.
"I always left my car in this park. Most of our friends left their cars in this place," police officer Fadl Ahmed told the Times. "I saw about 20 policemen's bodies. There were too many wounded. Everyone was crying. There was too much blood all over the place."
The New York Times reported a third car bomb exploded near the provincial government headquarters, wounding at least a 13 people, including Kirkuk's head of criminal investigation, whom officials said the attackers had targeted.
In the divided northern Iraqi city, Iraq's three main ethnic groups -- Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen -- wrestle for control of the area and its rich oil reserves. The fighting for dominance in Kirkuk is among the volatile issues facing Iraq as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw later this year.
"Kirkuk is witnessing a deterioration in the security situation," Hassan Toran, a Turkman and head of the provincial council, told the Times. "It's possible the attacks will increase if American troops leave Iraq."