Iraq: Death toll from huge suicide blast soars

Iraqis search through the wreckage of a truck bomb in  the northern Iraqi town of Taza on Saturday.
The death toll from Saturday’s suicide truck bombing in northern Iraq — the deadliest single attack this year — has risen to 80, a police official said.

The blast wounded 211 people and destroyed at least 50 buildings near Kirkuk, including shops and houses, the official said. It occurred in a busy area near a mosque in the town of Taza, about 10 miles southwest of Kirkuk and 149 miles north of Baghdad. Taza is inhabited predominantly by Shiite Turkmen. After the attack, additional checkpoints were set up around the city and nearby towns, including Taza, a Kirkuk police official said. A committee made up of army and police will investigate the bombing, the official said. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called the attack a “heinous terrorist crime.” Last week he warned of increased political violence in the country, mentioning a deadly bombing on June 10 in the southern town of Bathaa that killed more than 30 people and injured dozens. Al-Maliki said there would be attempts to undermine Iraqi security forces as U.S. troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the month and ahead of upcoming national elections.