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Iraqi authorities say Kurdish forces have taken over 2 oil fields near northern city of Kirkuk

Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attend open-air Friday prayers in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, July 11, 2014. The lightning sweep by the militants over much of northern and western Iraq the past month has dramatically hiked tensions between the country's Shiite majority and Sunni minority. At the same time, splits have grown between the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and the Kurdish autonomous region in the north. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attend open-air Friday prayers in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, July 11, 2014. The lightning sweep by the militants over much of northern and western Iraq the past month has dramatically hiked tensions between the country's Shiite majority and Sunni minority. At the same time, splits have grown between the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and the Kurdish autonomous region in the north. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

Iraq's Oil Ministry says Kurdish fighters have taken over two oil fields outside the disputed northern city of Kirkuk.

Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad says the Kurdish forces known as peshmerga seized the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oil fields before dawn on Friday. He says the move is "a violation to the constitution ... and a threat to national unity."

There was no immediate comment from authorities in the Kurdish self-rule region of northern Iraq.

The already difficult relationship between the Kurds and Iraq's central government has sharply deteriorated in recent days.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused the Kurds of harboring the Sunni militants who have overrun much of the country. The Kurds responded by declaring their politicians will boycott Cabinet meetings and renewing demands that al-Maliki step down.