Suicide bomber kills 22 in bank queue

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a bank in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing 22 people, including pensioners waiting for cheques and child street-vendors.

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a bank in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing 22 people, including pensioners waiting for cheques and child street-vendors.

A suicide car-bomber also rammed his vehicle into an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing five soldiers and wounding two others in Kan'an, about 30 miles north of Baghdad. Two civilians were also wounded in the attack claimed in an internet posting by the Ansar al-Sunnah Army - affiliated with al-Qa'ida in Iraq.

The attack in Kirkuk was allegedly claimed in an internet posting by al-Qa'ida itself. It came as the Shia-dominated government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari received a near overwhelming vote of confidence in the National Assembly on a promise to help restore security. Mr al-Jaafari's 37-member government, announced on 28 April, was approved by a show of hands in the 275-member parliament.

Although it has made quashing the insurgency its top priority, Mr al-Jaafari's government has been criticised for its inability to stop a wave of attacks in which more than 1,000 people have been killed since its inception.

The motives behind the Kirkuk attack were unclear, but it coincided with the swearing in of Massoud Barzani as the first president of Iraq's Kurdistan region in nearby Irbil.

The appointment cements the structure of the regional government with the creation of the post of president and marks out Kurdistan from other areas of the country administered from Baghdad. Kurds, who represent 15 to 20 per cent of Iraq's population of 26 million, have been pressing for greater autonomy from the capital in a federal structure.

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