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String of attacks across Iraq kill at least 33

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives blew himself up outside the offices of a major Kurdish party on Wednesday in northern Iraq, the deadliest in a wave of morning attacks that killed at least 33 people across the country.

The violence occurred amid rising tensions among Iraq's ethnic and sectarian groups that threaten to plunge the country back into chaos nearly a decade after the U.S.-led invasion.

While there was no claim of responsibility, car bombs and coordinated attacks are favorite tactics of Sunni insurgents, such as al-Qaida's Iraq branch. They seek to exacerbate divisions within Iraq in an effort to undermine the Shiite-led government.

The violence was the deadliest in the country since Nov. 29, when attacks mainly targeting Shiite pilgrims in southern Iraq killed at least 43 people.

The car bomb outside the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in downtown Kirkuk caused widespread damage, mangling cars and tearing apart storefronts on a busy commercial street. The KDP is led by Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region, who has frequently sparred with Iraq's central government in Baghdad.

The deputy police chief in Kirkuk, Maj. Gen. Torhan Abdul-Rahman Youssef, said 19 people were killed in the blast. Another car bomb that exploded nearby killed two more people. At least 185 were wounded in the two attacks, he said.

Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, who all have competing claims to the oil-rich area.

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