KIRKUK, Iraq (AFP) – Two suicide bombers blew themselves up inside a tent packed with protesters in north Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 55 others, officials said.
The attackers struck at around mid-day in the ethnically-mixed town of Tuz Khurmatu, interim town mayor Talib al-Bayati said. A doctor confirmed the toll.
Among the dead were a former deputy provincial governor and his two sons, as well as a former provincial councillor.
The protesters had been rallying over poor security in the town, which is regularly hit with attacks.
Tuz Khurmatu lies within a tract of territory that Iraqi Kurdistan wants to incorporate into its three-province region over Baghdad's objections.
The unresolved dispute over the territory, which stretches from Iraq's eastern border with Iran to its western frontier with Syria, is cited by diplomats as one of the biggest threats to the country's long-term stability.
Also on Tuesday, a magnetic "sticky bomb" attached to a minibus went off as Shiite Muslim pilgrims were on their way to the holy shrine city of Karbala for Shabaniyah commemorations, which mark the anniversary of the birth of Imam Mehdi, the so-called 12th imam and a key figure in Shiite Islam.
Three people were killed and 15 were wounded when the bomb went off near the town of Iskandiriyah, south of Baghdad, police and a doctor said.
Early Tuesday morning, meanwhile, gunmen wounded two guards outside an Assyrian church in east Baghdad.
The attacks struck a day after a wave of car bombs across the Iraqi capital and unrest north of Baghdad killed 35 people, as the country grapples with a prolonged political deadlock and violence at its worst levels since 2008.
Violence has increased markedly since the beginning of the year, coinciding with rising discontent among the Sunni Arab minority that erupted into protests in late December.
Analysts say a failure by the Shiite-led authorities to address the underlying causes of the demonstrations has given militant groups both a recruitment platform and room to manoeuvre.