KIRKUK, Iraq — A car bomb detonated in a busy traffic circle in Kirkuk on Tuesday morning, killing a one person and wounding as many as 17 other Iraqis.
Insurgents also fired two mortars into the town Monday night. A separate roadside bomb exploded near a vehicle of an Idaho Army National Guard unit patrolling out of the Kirkuk Regional Air Base about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.
No U.S. soldiers were injured in any of the explosions, according to initial reports.
Idaho soldiers with Bravo Company chased the insurgents who fired the mortar rounds Monday night, but did not find the culprits. The soldiers also assisted at the scene of the Kirkuk car bomb.
Stability and security in the Kirkuk province of Northern Iraq is the responsibility of the 4,000 soldiers in the Idaho Guard's 116th Brigade Combat Team. Officers with the 116th say the Kirkuk attacks follow a recent trend: Insurgents have turned their attention from the well-armed and -armored U.S. soldiers to focus on Iraqi citizens and police. On March 18, a roadside bomb killed four Iraqi police officers and injured another four. One Iraqi police officer was killed in a March 17 bombing. On early Tuesday morning, a car with a Mosul license plate parked outside a gas station, according to officials at the Rahem-Awa police station in north Kirkuk. The driver left the vehicle in a line of cars waiting for gasoline when the station opened, police said.
Kirkuk's minister of Sewer and Health was traveling to his office in a motorcade that included a BMW and several SUVs when an insurgent apparently detonated the bomb with a remote device.
Police said the bombing was probably aimed at any official driving in the passing government motorcade, but not specifically the minister.
Based on the blast radius and shrapnel recovered from the scene, the IED — improvised explosive device — was probably made with five rounds of 155 mm artillery shells, said Bravo Company's 1st Lt. Aaron Jarnagin of Idaho Falls.
The blast blew the car's engine block an estimated 50 feet, according to soldiers who responded to the bomb site Tuesday morning. Pieces of the car hung from light poles. The blast buckled metal doors on nearby businesses.
Police hauled the remains of the car to Rahem-Awa police station; all of it could have fit in the back of a standard-sized pickup bed.
Hours after the attack, reports on injuries were inconsistent. Officers had differing tallies, but the Rahem-Awa police chief said Tuesday that 17 people were wounded and one killed.
Officials had no word on damages or injuries from Monday night's mortar attacks.
Soldiers from Bravo Company combed the neighborhood where the insurgents fled late Monday night. They banged on doors and rousted residents in an unsuccessful search for information.