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Twin suicide bombs kill eight Iraqi Turkmen

TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) - Two suicide bombers killed at least eight Iraqi Turkmen on Tuesday when they blew themselves up at a protest by members of the ethnic minority group, police said.

The attackers walked into the encampment on the Baghdad-Kirkuk highway, near the town of Tuz Khurmato, 170 km (105 miles) north of the Iraqi capital, where Turkmen were protesting against what they saw as government failure to protect them.

Tuz Khurmato is a disputed area with a mixed population of ethnic Kurds, Arab Sunnis and Shi'ite Turkmen. The latter have recently been targeted in a series of attacks on their gatherings of Turkmen, their headquarters and on prominent members.

"Protesters were gathering near the coffin of a man who died of serious injuries from a previous bomb in the town, when suddenly a powerful blast hit the protest tent, throwing people away," a policeman, who was wounded in the leg, told Reuters.

The second blast happened as protesters tried to take the wounded to hospital.

"I saw some people hugging bodies covered with blood and crying in grief," the policeman said.

Militants have struck with increasing regularity in Iraq since the start of the year. More than 1,000 people were killed in May alone, making it the deadliest month since sectarian violence last peaked in 2006-07.

Insurgents, including al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate, have been recruiting members from the country's minority Sunnis, who feel sidelined since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein and empowered majority Shi'ites.

(Reporting by Ghazwan Hassan; Writing by Isabel Coles, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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