Truck bomb hits increasingly violent northern Iraq

The attack killed at least 19 people Thursday, two days after another bomb left three US soldiers dead. Insurgents may be moving north as coalition forces push them out elsewhere.

A truck bomb killed 19 people today in a Kurdish village in northern Iraq, and police moments later averted a second attack by killing the driver of another vehicle before he could detonate his explosives.

The attacks occurred about 20 miles east of Mosul, in an area considered one of the last insurgent strongholds.

Some analysts believe attacks are on the rise in the north as Al Qaeda has been pushed out of Baghdad and other large cities by United States-led coalition forces.

Today’s attack took place before dawn, reports Reuters:

The blast in the village of Wardek, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, seemed calculated to fan ethnic tensions between Kurds and Arabs, whose politicians are embroiled in a bitter dispute over claims to territory and oil.
Women and children were among the dead and many houses were destroyed, police said.

Al Jazeera reports that the area around Mosul has become one of the most violent in Iraq:

The US has said that opposition groups are attacking Kurds in ethnically mixed areas in an attempt to stoke ethnic tensions between them and Arabs…

Analysts say al-Qaeda in Iraq and other armed Sunni Arab groups are attempting to maintain some ground in the region after being pushed out of Baghdad and western Iraq.

The attacks today come two days after a bomb in the north killed three American soldiers, the Los Angeles Times reports:

In Tuesday's attacks, a roadside bomb killed three soldiers on patrol in Salahuddin province, north of the capital, the U.S. military said…
It was the deadliest day for the Americans since June 29, when four soldiers were killed in Baghdad. The next day, most U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq's cities, where their movements have since been restricted, though they have greater latitude in the countryside. Seven American soldiers died in August.

In a report from Baghdad, the Wall Street Journal reports that an overall spike in attacks has created tension between Iraq and Syria:

Overall violence is down in Iraq but the last month has seen a spike in attacks. The worst incident occurred Aug. 19, when several explosions in Baghdad left almost 100 people dead.
The Iraqi government has blamed Saddam Hussein's former Baath Party and al Qaeda in Iraq for the August bombings. Iraq has also demanded that Syria hand over suspects accused of planning the attacks who now live in Syria.
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