The bombing happened at 1150 local time, killing two Iraqi policemen, a civilian and the bomber. Members of the local ruling party – the Kurdistan Democratic Party – arrived shortly after the attack to investigate. Irbil has remained comparatively quiet compared to other cities in Iraq. The previous large-scale attack in the city was a car bombing in September, which killed one Iraqi and wounded about 50 others – including six US Department of Defence employees.

Thousands of Iraqi Kurds demonstrated in the streets of Kirkuk on 23 December calling for the city to be integrated into a Kurdish-controlled federal state. After the protests, the five Kurdish members of the interim Governing Council (GC) said that they were trying to push a federal system. ‘The coming months will be crucial in determining the future of the Kurds in Iraq,’ said GC member Mahmud Othman. ‘The Kurds have rights they have been deprived of for 80 years, and that is why today they are trying to get administrative guarantees to preserve the Kurdish identity,’ said the Adel Murad, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan – the Party led by GC member, Jalal Talabani.