Iraq's Kurds announce boycott of al-Maliki's embattled government, deepening political crisis

Iraq's Kurdish political bloc says it is pulling its ministers from the Cabinet and suspending its participation in the government of embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The announcement comes a day after al-Maliki accused the largely autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq of harboring the Sunni militants who have overrun much of the country. The prime minister provided no evidence, and the Kurds denied the allegations.

Deputy Prime Minister Roz Nouri Shawez, the highest level Kurdish official in the government, told reporters Thursday that "such statements are meant to hide the big security fiasco by blaming others, and we announce our boycott of Cabinet meetings."

Kurds also hold the minister posts for foreign affairs, trade, health and immigration and displacement.

It was unclear what immediate impact the decision would have.