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Car bomb kills three in Iraq's Kirkuk before Kurdish vote

Control of Kirkuk province is disputed by Baghdad and autonomous region of Kurdistan
Security forces inspect scene of a car bomb explosion that targeted shops selling alcohol in mainly Kurdish Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Saturday (AFP)
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A car bomb explosion targeting shops selling alcohol in Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk on Saturday killed three civilians and wounded nine, a security official said.

He said the blast damaged the shops and sparked a fire in three vehicles.

Kirkuk is the capital of the oil-rich province of the same name, control of which is disputed by the federal government in Baghdad and the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The blast comes as Kurdish leaders prepare to hold an independence referendum on 25 September in the face of fierce opposition from Baghdad and the Kurds' international backers.

The Kurdish Regional Government is embroiled in long-standing disputes with the federal government over oil exports, budget payments and control of ethnically divided areas.

On Thursday, the Baghdad parliament fired the governor of Kirkuk province, Najm Eddine Karim, over his provincial council's decision to take part in the non-binding referendum.

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