8 killed in Kirkuk blast

BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber rammed his car into an Iraqi police truck Tuesday, killing five policemen and three civilians in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, said police.

The attack, which took place in a crowded downtown commercial area packed with people preparing for work, also wounded at least 11 people, many of them civilians, said Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir, the police spokesman in Kirkuk.

The blast burnt three cars and damaged several shops along the street.

A roadside bomb exploded near an army patrol on the other side of the city at the same time as the suicide attack, but there were no casualties, said Qadir.

Kirkuk is the center of Iraq's oil production in the north and is contested between its Kurdish and Arab populations. Kurdish leaders seek to incorporate it into their semiautonomous region in the north, making it one of the most sensitive areas for Iraqi leaders and U.S. military commanders preparing to withdraw their troops from the country by the end of 2011.

The showdown has been so volatile that Kirkuk was excluded from regional elections in January and the United Nations has offered a proposal for compromise plans.