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Two deadly car bombs blast Kirkuk

A pair of car bombs have killed nine people in the Kurdish-held Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, Reuters have reported, citing police and medical sources.

The explosions near a Shi'ite mosque holding displaced people came after an offensive launched by Islamic State fighters which has routed Kurdish forces in northern Iraq andcaused tens of thousands of people to flee.

Islamic State fighters gain more ground in northern Iraq

Kurdish Peshmerga troops engage ISIS forces in northern Iraq
Kurdish Peshmerga troops engage ISIS forces in northern Iraq Credit: Reuters

Militants from the Islamic State have made further ground in northern Iraq, seizing more towns after residents fled the area in fear.

Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, was seized by the Jihadists after Kurdish troops were forced into a hasty retreat, according to AFP.

The towns are among many in the area where thousands of Christians who were forced to abandon their homes in the main northern city of Mosul last month had found refuge.

More: 40,000 flee northern Iraq after Islamist militant threat

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Who is President Jalal Talabani?

The Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is being treated in hospital for an unspecified health problem. Here are some facts about his rise to prominence:

  • A veteran of the guerilla movement for Kurdish independence
  • Founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan - one of two political parties in Iraq's Kurdish region
  • Helped to negotiate Iraq's interim constitution after the 2003 Iraq War
  • The presidency is largely ceremonial, but Talibani has used it to mediate in ethnic and sectarian conflicts

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