15 people killed in mortar barrage, gunfire in Iraq

Baghdad, Oct 9 (IANS) At least 15 people were killed and 30 others wounded on Thursday in a mortar barrage in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala and a gunmen attack in the northern city of Kirkuk, security sources said.

In Diyala, many mortar rounds landed on four districts in the provincial capital city Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, leaving 13 people killed and some 30 others wounded, a provincial security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Diyala province, which stretches from the eastern edges of Baghdad to the eastern border, has long been a volatile area since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, despite repeated military operations against militant groups.

In Kirkuk, a local intelligence officer, and his bodyguard were killed when gunmen opened fire on their car while they were driving near the officer’s house in southern Kirkuk.

Tensions have been growing high in Kirkuk, home to mixed ethnicities of Kurds, Arabs, Turkomans and others, which is part of areas where Baghdad and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan have contested.

The Kurds want to expand their region in northern Iraq to include the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other areas in the provinces of Nineveh, Salahudin and Diyala, a demand fiercely opposed by the Iraqi government.

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