Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Deadly bombing at Iraq restaurant

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At least 12 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a restaurant in north-eastern Iraq.

The attack took place in Khanaqin, Diyala province, a town close to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and near the border with Iran.

It comes days after Iraq held largely peaceful provincial elections, the first results of which are expected to be released on Thursday.

Kurdish and police officials say at least 15 other people were injured.

Yahya Ibrahim, a 35-year-old mechanic, was among those injured.

"I was at the back of the restaurant when suddenly the explosion happened at the entrance. Everything around was destroyed," he said.

He added that most of the casualties were traders from a local market.

Khanaqin police chief Col Azad Eisa said most of the victims were Kurds.

A report on the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) media website said the bombing occurred at 1410 (1110 GMT).

Ethnic tensions

Khanaqin is the centre of a power struggle between Kurds and Arabs.

The town holds sizeable oil reserves and longstanding Kurdish ambitions to incorporate Khanaqin into their northern semi-autonomous region have sparked ethnic tensions with Arabs.

Correspondents say that on election day, hundreds of Kurds complained that they couldn't find their names on voter registration lists.

Salahuddin Kokha, an official with a local Kurdish political party, said the attack was meant to upset Kurdish claims of a strong showing in the provincial elections.

"Terrorists want to destroy the happiness of the Kurds over their election victory in Khanaqin," he said.

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