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Suicide Bomber Kills At Least 46 In Iraqi Restaurant


KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) -- A suicide bomber killed at least 46 people and wounded around 100 in a crowded restaurant near Iraq's ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, shattering the calm during a major Muslim holiday, police said.

The bomber detonated explosives inside the Kurdish restaurant, police said, which was packed with government officials, women and children during lunch hour north of Kirkuk, a city disputed by ethnic Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen.

Major General Torhan Abdul-Rahman, the deputy police chief of Kirkuk, said 46 people were killed in the blast and 93 wounded. A police captain in Kirkuk, who asked not to be identified, said 55 people were killed and 109 were wounded.

After more than five years of sectarian bloodshed and insurgency unleashed in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Iraqis have begun to venture out and resume normal life in areas where security is returning.

Violence has dropped sharply over the past year, but militants still stage regular attacks in volatile areas, such as the northern city of Mosul. Kirkuk has been one of the less violent cities in Iraq.

The blast shook Iraq as Muslims celebrated Eid al-Adha, a four-day religious holiday. Many people are off work and would be more likely to visit restaurants.

Iraqi and U.S. security forces sealed off the area following the bombing, a Reuters reporter in Kirkuk said.

Iraq's majority Arabs and minority Kurds have sparred over control of Kirkuk, 250 kilometers north of Baghdad, which lies atop massive oil reserves.