Iraq’s Kurdish region claimed disputed northern oil fields on Friday in another blow to efforts to forge a united front against a jihadist-led onslaught, as twin bombings killed 28 people.
The escalating row between Baghdad and the Kurds, and the blasts in disputed Kirkuk Province, which killed mostly refugees from fighting elsewhere, came just two days before a planned parliamentary session to revive flagging efforts to form a new government.
With political disputes deepening and militants on the attack, the US embassy in Baghdad issued a sharp rebuke to Iraqi politicians, saying any additional delays or escalation would only play into the insurgents’ hands.
The regional Kurdish government further raised the stakes on Friday by claiming control over disputed northern oil fields.
“Production at the new fields under [Kurdish] control will be used primarily to fill the shortage of refined products in the domestic market,” it said, adding that staff from the federal North Oil Company could either cooperate with new management or leave.
However, in a sign of the major security challenges Kurdish forces face, a suicide bombing followed by a roadside bomb blast at the entrance to Kirkuk, the province’s capital, killed 28 people and wounded 25 on Friday, health official Sabah Mohammad Amin said.
Many of those killed were people who had fled fighting in neighboring provinces.