A car bomb exploded outside a liquor store in northern Iraq overnight, killing at least 12 civilians, a senior police officer said on Sunday.
The blast struck the northern oil-rich and ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk, deputy police chief Maj Gen Torhan Abdul-Rahman Youssef said. Youssef said that the blast in the western al-Wasiti neighborhood wounded 29.
Kirkuk is located 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad.
Militants often target night clubs, liquor stores and brothels. They want to impose a strict interpretation of Islam in Iraq.
The attack comes as Iraq’s Shiite-led government is struggling to contain a surge in sectarian violence unseen since the country was pushed to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007 after the US-led invasion that toppled dictator Sadaam Hussein.
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According to the United Nations, 8,868 people were killed in Iraq last year.
The uptick in violence also comes as the country’s political rivals are trying to form a new government after parliamentary elections April 30.
Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bloc emerged as the biggest winner, securing 92 seats in the 328-member parliament, but it failed to gain the majority needed to govern alone.