ISTANBUL - Mourners poured into mosques in Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk on Friday, vowing not to let the worst bomb attack in months turn ethnic tensions into bloodshed.
Investigators, meanwhile, said restaurant guards had stopped searching customers about two weeks ago amid a lull in violence in the area. That enabled the bomber to walk into the crowded restaurant without being challenged.
Fifty people were killed and some 100 wounded in the suicide bombing on Thursday of a restaurant north of the city that is disputed by Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen. It has been an oasis of relative calm during Iraq's wave of sectarian violence. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the U.S. blamed the blast on al-Qaeda, which uses bombings as its signature attack.
It appeared that the target was the reconciliation meeting with Arab tribal leaders, Turkomen representatives and Kurdish officials on ways to defuse tension among Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen in the disputed area.
Talabani arrived in Kirkuk hours after Thursday's bombing to meet with senior provincial officials, although his planned meeting with Sunni Arab tribal leaders was canceled, provincial council chief, Razgar Ali, told the Associated Press.
"What is their sin?" said Miaad Ridha Mohammed, 45, a Kurd, breaking into tears before the funeral in a Sunni mosque for his brother, his brother's wife and two of their three children, all killed in blast near Kirkuk.
"It is terror in general that doesn't differentiate between kids, and young men and old men," said Mohammed, an employee of the state-run North Oil Company. "This explosion has nothing to do with Arabs, Kurds or Turkomen. It targets innocent civilians. They want to kill Iraqis' joy," he told Reuters.