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Violence In Kirkuk Ahead Of Planned Kurdish Referendum Vote


A Kurdish flag flying over the Irbil Citadel, in the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Police have deployed in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to prevent a deadly clash from developing into ethnic violence ahead of a referendum on Kurdish independence, reports say.

Local residents and officials said on September 19 that checkpoints were erected across Kirkuk overnight after a Kurd was killed in a clash with the guards of a Turkmen political party office in the city.

Two other Kurds and one Turkmen security guard were reported wounded in the violence.

Tensions rose in the ethnically-mixed city after its Kurdish-led provincial council voted this month to include it in a referendum planned in Iraq’s Kurdish semiautonomous region.

Kurdish leaders want to hold the vote on September 25, despite opposition from the Baghdad government and the international community, including Iraq’s neighbors Turkey and Iran.

Kirkuk lies outside the boundaries of the Kurdish semiautonomous region and is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters took control of the city in the summer of 2014, when the extremist group Islamic State swept across northern and central Iraq.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP
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