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Seventeen killed, 65 injured in Iraqi Kurdish party HQ

Medical source expects death toll to rise due to intensity of the blasts
Iraqi soldiers inspect damages on the aftermath of a car bomb explosion in the capital city Baghdad (AFP)

Seventeen people were killed and 65 others injured on Sunday in twin blasts targeting the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party (PUK) headquaters in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, according to a medical source.

Police Captain Farhad Rifat said the car bomb went off close to an office of President Jalal Talabani's PUK party HQ and a Kurdish asayesh security forces building.

As emergency workers arrived on the scene, the suicide bomber entered the PUK office and detonated explosives, he said.

He said the two blasts caused damage to surrounding buildings and vehicles.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A medical source, meanwhile, said the number of victims is expected to rise in the coming hours due to the intensity of the blasts.

Iraq has seen a marked uptick in violence in recent months, running at its highest levels since 2006-2007 - when tens of thousands were killed in sectarian conflicts between Iraq's Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority.

More than 900 people were killed last month, according to figures separately compiled by the United Nations and the government.

So far this year, more than 4,500 people have been killed, according to AFP figures.

Officials blame external factors for the rising bloodshed, particularly the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

But analysts say widespread Sunni Arab anger with the Shiite-led government has also been a major factor.

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