A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a crowded coffee shop late on Friday in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing at least 38 and wounding more than two dozen in the latest in a string of bloody attacks pounding Iraq since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this week.
Another suicide bomber and a shooting elsewhere in the country killed five members of Iraq’s security forces, bringing Friday’s death toll to 43.
The late-night blast in Kirkuk’s Wahed Huzeiran District ripped through the Classico Cafe as patrons were enjoying tea and water pipes after the sunset meal that breaks the day-long Ramadan fast, police officials said.
“I left the cafe to go to my shop opposite. When the explosion happened the glass of my shop shattered and I was injured by the fragments. I rushed to the scene ... some bodies were dismembered,” eyewitness Mohammed said.
Earlier in the day, a suicide car bomber struck a police patrol outside the northern city of Mosul, killing four policemen, a police officer and a medical official said.
Outside the northern city of Tikrit, drive-by shooters armed with pistols fitted with silencers killed a senior police officer in the town of Shirqat.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the Kirkuk bombing or other recent attacks.
Kirkuk is a flashpoint for ethnic tensions, with its mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen holding competing claims to claims for control of the oil-rich area. The Kurds want the city to be incorporated into their autonomous region in the north.
A referendum to determine Kirkuk’s status was supposed to be conducted in 2007, but political discord prevented it being carried out.
Iraq’s delicate ethno-sectarian balance has come under growing strain from the conflict in Syria, where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
At least 761 people were killed in militant attacks across Iraq last month, according to the UN.
On Thursday, at least 66 people were killed in bomb and gun attacks across Iraq. A car bomb at a Shiite mosque in Dujail overnight brought the number of people killed that day to 76, police said.