A homicide car bomber exploded his vehicle alongside a bus carrying Kurdish peshmerga (search) militiamen in this northern city, killing at least seven and injuring eight, a Kurdish official said.

The blast went off in the afternoon in an eastern neighborhood of Mosul (search) as the bus carrying militiamen loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan were arriving from Irbil province, said Saadi Ahmed, a PUK official.

Mosul has been the scene of fierce fighting since Thursday, involving U.S. and allied Iraqi forces against insurgents opposed to coalition forces. Insurgents have also launched regular attacks aimed against Kurds in the area.

The Kurdish minority generally lives in peace with Mosul's Arab majority, but Kurdish and Arab officials say insurgents behind a wave of attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces in the city have been trying to drag the Kurds into their fight and set off a sectarian war.

The PUK (search) and the other main Iraqi Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, are mostly secular U.S. allies that have a bloody history of animosity with some militant Islamic groups and Baath Party loyalists, both believed to be active in the Mosul insurgency. The parties have long been targets.