At least 32 die in Iraq blast as Obama hails withdrawal from cities
A car bomb went off in a crowded outdoor market in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, killing at least 32 people, police said, as the Iraqi government celebrated the withdrawal of American combat forces from cities. The car bomb went off as the vegetable and poultry market was crowded with people shopping for their evening meal, police Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said. Police and hospital officials gave the death toll and said about 40 people were wounded.
Despite this attack, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki assured Iraqis that government forces taking control of urban areas were more than capable of ensuring security. "Those who think that Iraqis are not able to protect their country and that the withdrawal of foreign forces will create a security vacuum are committing a big mistake," he said in a nationally televised address. According to the AP, he later appeared at a military parade to observe the day in the Green Zone in central Baghdad, with soldiers and policemen marching in formation while Iraqi helicopters flew overhead.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday hailed the withdrawal as an important milestone but warned of "difficult days" ahead. According to Obama, American soldiers in Iraq had met a June 30 deadline to complete their withdrawal from urban areas and hand over full control to Iraqi security forces. All U.S. troops are due to withdraw from Iraq by 2012.