A pair of roadside bombs killed three people in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, including two of the city’s police chief’s guards, police and hospital officials said.

While violence in Iraq has dropped off dramatically since the height of the sectarian tensions of 2006 and 2007, smaller attacks such as those in Kirkuk continue. The northern city has also been a flashpoint for tension between the country’s Arab and Kurdish populations who both claim the city as their own.

The first blast took place around 9:30 a.m. targeting a police convoy, a Kirkuk police officer said. The officer said two guards of the city’s police chief were in the convoy and both were killed in the attack.

The police chief was not in the convoy.

Another roadside bomb targeting a police patrol went off minutes later about 200 meters down the street, killing a policeman, the officer said.

The casualties were confirmed by an official at the hospital.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The motive for the attacks was not immediately known, though security personnel have frequently been targeted by insurgents who see them as collaborators with the government.

The oil-rich city of Kirkuk has been a centre of controversy in Iraq. Under Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s program of Arabization, Kurds were kicked out of the city and Arabs moved in. After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Kurds began moving back to the city but now many Arabs claim there are more Kurds than ever before.

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