Is al Qaeda Behind Kirkuk Bombing?
Two bombs killed 27 and injured 90 today in Kirkuk. Initial reports in the U.S. put the casualty numbers significantly lower, and also reported that Kirkuk police officials were suspecting the involvement of Al Qaeda in the attacks. One report stated that there were actually three explosions, and that the third was targeted at police.
Unrest in the area is largely due to ethnic and sectarian disputes between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. As has been the case since the British entered the region in search of oil during the World War II era, one of the primary arguments is over rights to the oil rich lands. Currently, Kurds wish to claim the lands for Kurdistan, while the Arabs claim that it belongs to Baghdad. The removal of Saddam Hussein reawakened this argument that was started around the time of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
While sectarian fighting over oil rights could arguably be the cause of the current attacks, Lt. Brigadier Sarhad Qader, Director of the Kirkuk Police, is of the opinion that the attacks are directly related a recent arrest in the region. Mohammed Adel Amin, the "Wali (Islamic governor)" of Kirkuk and Al Qaeda front man in the region, was taken into custody under 24 hours before the bombings began. In addition to the current bombings, the "Wali of Kirkuk" is suspected to be involved in several other attacks in the region, including the bombing of houses belonging to two Hajiwa police officers.