Bomber kills 15 at Kurdish funeral

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber struck a Kurdish funeral tent north-east of Baghdad yesterday in the deadliest of a series of attacks that killed 24 people across the country.

One of the victims said the funeral gathering was targeted because of the close alliance the Kurds have had with the United States.

The violence came as Turkey's President, Abdullah Gul, made the first visit to Iraq by a Turkish head of state in more than 30 years.

The bomber detonated his explosives inside the tent as a funeral was being held for the father of a Kurdish politician in Jalula, killing at least 15 people and wounding 30, according to Colonel Azad Issa, the director of a nearby police station. A local Kurdish official, Salahuddin Kekh, confirmed the attack and casualty toll.

One victim, Abu Holman, said that he was outside the tent when the blast occurred. He blamed al-Qa'ida in Iraq for the bombing. "Al-Qa'ida is targeting the Kurds because it believes that we are involved in the political process and collaborating with the Americans. There are still many al-Qa'ida hotbeds in our area," said Mr Holman from his hospital bed.

The blast occurred hours after Iraqi police said eight people were killed and 10 wounded by a bomb west of the capital.

Another suicide bomber struck a popular market in the northern city of Tal Afar, killing a policeman and wounding eight others.