Iraqi Turkmen Official Killed in Kirkuk

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Mijar:

KIRKUK-AFP- Aug 31, 2004: - The top education ministry official in Iraq's oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk was assassinated, while three bodyguards and six policemen were wounded in a string of attacks Tuesday, police said.

"Ibrahim Ismail was killed on the main road as he was heading to the technological institute south of Kirkuk," police chief General Turhan Yusef said.

The official was shot several times in the head. Three of his bodyguards were wounded, one of them seriously, when six attackers in a pick-up van sprayed his vehicle with gunfire, Yusef said.

Ismail belonged to the Iraqi Turkmen Front, a party which has organised protests condemning what it describes as attempts by the city's Kurdish community to seize Turkmen and Arab land.

He was also at the centre of a heated debate in the ethnically-divided city over which languages should be taught in schools.

Separately, three policemen were wounded when masked gunmen opened fire on a patrol car trying to park outside a Kirkuk restaurant in the early morning rush hour.

Another policeman was seriously hurt when a roadside bomb exploded alongside a police car in western Kirkuk. Three other policemen sustained minor injuries, police said.

Turkmen claim they make up about 13 percent of Iraq's entire population of 25 million, or slightly more than three million people, which would make them the third largest ethnic group after Arabs and Kurds.

But according to the last Iraqi census conducted in 1977, their people, who live largely around Kirkuk and the main northern city of Mosul, account for no more than two percent of the population.

Most Turkmen oppose the Kurdish rebel groups which controlled three northern provinces after the 1991 Gulf war in defiance of Saddam Hussein's regime.

However the Kurds argue that, but for demographic manipulation by Saddam, they would also form the majority in Kirkuk and parts of other provinces.

They are pressing for their inclusion in an autonomous Kurdish region within a federal Iraq.



Source: AFP










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