Kirkuk (Iraq): A suicide bomber blew up a car in northern Iraq on Monday, killing two policemen and a woman, and wounding 100 other people, many of them schoolchildren, officials said.

The bomber struck at a police station in the town of Dibis, northwest of the ethnically divided oil city of Kirkuk, district official Abdullah al-Salehi said.

Many of the wounded were pupils at an adjacent Kurdish girls' secondary school, Salehi added. The blast hit at around 10:00 am (0700 GMT) when children were in class, a police officer said.

Dibis is part of a swathe of territory that the Kurds want to join to their autonomous region in northern Iraq, over the objections of Arab and Turkmen residents, and the Central Government in Baghdad.

Diplomats say the dispute poses the biggest threat to Iraq's long-term stability. Violence has decreased from its peak in 2006 and 2007 when sectarian bloodshed raged between Sunni and Shiite Arabs.

But 10 years after the US-led invasion, attacks remain common, killing 220 people last month, according to a news agency tally based on security and medical sources.


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