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Iraq Backs Arab Relocation for Kirkuk
BAGHDAD — Iraq's government has endorsed plans to relocate thousands of Arabs who were moved to Kirkuk as part of Saddam Hussein's campaign to force ethnic Kurds out of the oil-rich city, in an effort to undo one of the former dictator's most enduring and hated policies.
The contentious decision was confirmed Saturday by Iraq's Sunni justice minister as he told The Associated Press he was resigning. Almost immediately, opposition politicians said they feared it would harden the violent divisions among Iraq's fractious ethnic and religious groups and possibly lead to an Iraq divided among Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiites.
The plan was virtually certain to anger neighboring Turkey, which fears a northward migration of Iraqi Kurds _ and an exodus of Sunni Arabs _ will inflame its own restive Kurdish minority.
At least 36 people were killed in a series of bombings and attacks around the country, including nine construction workers who died when gunmen opened fire on their bus south of Kirkuk. The deaths capped a week in which more than 500 people were killed in sectarian violence.