Continuing violence during the past days has also claimed the lives of three children, a U.S. soldier and a Sunni Muslim cleric, underscoring the rampant, random nature of an insurgency that has killed almost 800 people since the April 28 announcement of Iraq's new Shiite-led government, according to an Associated Press count.
At least 12 people were killed in a massive explosion targeting a restaurant in Tuz Khormato, 55 miles south of the northern city of Kirkuk, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said in a statement. Police Lt. Sabah Hidayat said at least 40 people were wounded.
The suicide bombing tore apart the town's Baghdad Restaurant, where bodyguards of Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister, Rowsch Nouri Shaways, were eating, said police Brig. Sarhad Qadre.
"I was sitting inside my restaurant when about six cars parked nearby and their passengers came inside and ordered food," said restaurant owner Ahmed al-Dawoudi. "Seconds later, I heard a big explosion and the restaurant was turned into twisted wreckage and rubble. Blood and pieces of flesh were everywhere."
Shaways was not at the restaurant at the time of the blast, which killed 12 diners, including one of his guards. At least 40 were wounded. Kurds, who want oil-rich Kirkuk to be part of their autonomous Kurdistan region, have been regularly targeted by insurgent attacks.
The blast set ablaze eight cars in the restaurant's parking lot, the focal point of a bloody, rubble-strewn scene that U.S. and Iraqi police quickly cordoned off. Shards of glass, shoes and splattered breakfast meals covered the restaurant's floor as emergency workers raced around overturned tables and wooden chairs in a bid to treat the casualties.
In other recent developments: