Huge suicide attack on Iraqi police

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At LEAST 33 people were killed in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk yesterday when a suicide bomber detonated a device in a truck packed with explosives outside a police headquarters and gunmen disguised as officers tried to storm the compound.

The blast was the third major attack in weeks in or near the multi-ethnic city of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, at the heart of a dispute between Iraq’s central government and the autonomous Kurdistan region.

Police said the bomber triggered the huge blast near a side entrance to the police building, demolishing part of a government office nearby.

Police said 33 people were killed, including 12 employees at the government office.

The attack comes as insurgents linked to al-Qaeda try to inflame sectarian conflict in Iraq, where a power-sharing government split among Shiite majority, Sunni and ethnic Kurds has been in crisis since the last US troops left a year ago.

Shiite prime minister Nuri al-Maliki is facing mass protests from Sunnis in western provinces complaining of marginalisation. He is also caught in a stand-off with the country’s autonomous Kurdish enclave in the north.