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- File Photo by AFP.

KIRKUK: A roadside bomb on Tuesday ripped through an armoured car killing two local politicians and badly wounding a third in a disputed town north of Baghdad, officials said.

The explosion struck just north of the town of Tuz Khurmatu, 175 kilometres from the capital, and also killed one of the group's bodyguards and wounded another, according to a police colonel and a medic at the local hospital.

Town mayor Shallal Abdul, city council chief Abdulqader Naimi and Salaheddin provincial councillor Rashid Khorshid had been travelling together to inspect a road paving project north of Tuz when the bomb went off.

Naimi and Khorshid, both candidates in provincial elections due to be held on April 20, were killed, and Abdul was badly wounded and transported to a hospital in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.

Tuz Khurmatu lies at the centre of a tract of disputed territory that is claimed by both the mostly-Arab central government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region.

Tensions there have been high since late last year, when a firefight broke out during an attempt by Iraqi forces to arrest a Kurdish man in the town, prompting Iraq's parliament speaker to warn that increased tensions could lead to civil war.

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