World Bulletin / News Desk
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has asked Massoud Barzani, head of northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, to postpone a planned referendum on the region’s secession from Iraq.
According to a Friday statement issued by Barzani’s office, Tillerson asked the Kurdish leader by phone to postpone the referendum -- currently slated for October -- and called for dialog between the Kurdish region and Baghdad.
Tillerson also praised a decision by the Kurdish region’s political leadership to send a delegation to Baghdad to hold talks with Iraqi officials to discuss the upcoming poll.
Barzani, for his part, told Tillerson that the planned referendum was aimed at realizing the Kurdish region’s longstanding desire for regional coexistence.
The poll, in which residents of the Kurdish region will vote on whether or not to formally secede from the Iraqi state, is slated to be held on Sept. 25.
Baghdad, however, rejects the planned referendum, saying the move could adversely affect the region’s ongoing fight against the ISIL terrorist group.
The Iraqi government also claims that the poll would violate Iraq’s 2005 constitution and would be “of no political or economic benefit to the region’s Kurds”.
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Catalonia police spokesman Josep Lluis Trapero added that a driver who mowed down crowds of pedestrians in the first attack in a busy Barcelona street Thursday could be among five suspects later shot dead in a nearby city.
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For his part, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told RTL radio that "the number of those who have been seriously injured may perhaps be even higher at around 17."
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Death toll feared to rise due to severe conditions of the many injured
The pickup truck, which had an improvised white wooden trailer constructed over the back, was transporting them in "overcrowded and unsanitary conditions," said a state police report seen by AFP.
At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured when a driver deliberately slammed his vehicle into crowds on Barcelona's most popular street -- Las Ramblas -- in what police qualified as a "terror attack."
The van attack that mowed down pedestrians on Barcelona's most famous street on Thursday killing at least 13 people was the latest fatal assault on a European city.