More than 100 people may have been killed after two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the offices of two rival Kurdish parties in the Iraqi city of Irbil. At least 57 people died in the attack.
The dead include the governor of the region, ministers in the local administration and several senior officials, at least 235 people were admitted to the city's three hospitals with injuries.
One Kurdish minister said the death toll could exceed 100.
The near-simultaneous attacks at the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan took place as party leaders were receiving hundreds of visitors to mark the start of the four-day Muslim holiday, Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice.
A state of emergency has been declared in the Kurdish area, and doctors have been asked to return from Eid vacation. An urgent appeal has been issued to residents to donate blood.
Irbil is about 200 miles north of the capital, Baghdad.
The PUK and KDP parties control the Kurdish-dominated provinces of northern Iraq where most of the country's minority Kurds live. There was no claim of responsibility. However, a radical Kurdish group, Ansar al-Islam, operates in the Kurdish region and has been linked by US officials to al-Qaida.
Thousands of people crowded outside Irbil's hospital, looking for loved ones but were kept out by police.
Officials said the top Kurdish leaders were greeting people when the attacker approached them and detonated the explosives strapped around his body. The second attack took place at about the same time in the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan across town, PUK spokesman Kadhim Ali said. He said several people were killed and injured in the PUK attack.
US military officials had said they were prepared for any upsurge of violence in connection with the holiday. The start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan last year marked a sharp escalation in violence against the U.S.-led coalition and its Iraqi allies.
The attacks occurred a day after a car bomb outside a police station in the northern city of Mosul killed at least nine people and injured 45.Reuse content