A suicide blast in Kirkuk, Iraq

Earlier this week, I spent several days in the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to film a story about how life has changed since it had been taken over by Kurdish Peshmerga forces. This used to be one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq. When I had visited the previous year, I couldn't move around without an armed escort. This time, the mood seemed lighter. Residents told me they felt safer than before. The rampant violence that had once marred the city seemed to have subsided. But it didn't take long for the fragile peace to shatter. Just as I was getting ready to drive back to Erbil, a suicide blast ripped through a busy Kirkuk street in a Kurdish neighborhood. I was on the scene to witness the chaotic aftermath of the attack.

 Stunned residents survey the damage. A suicide bomber detonated his vest on this busy market street in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.

Stunned residents survey the damage. A suicide bomber detonated his vest on this busy market street in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.

A pool of blood on the street where the suicide blast took place less than an hour before this photo was taken. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.

An Iraqi police officer surveys the remnants of a burned out car in Kirkuk. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.

Neighborhood residents look on as people run around in the chaotic aftermath of the suicide blast. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.

The impact of the blast shattered the glass storefronts of nearby businesses. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.

The blast was so powerful that it destroyed several cars in the vicinity. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.

A Kirkuk police officer warily watches the scene. Tension is high and tempers have been flaring up. Moments earlier, Peshmerga soldiers fired their weapons into the air to scatter onlookers. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.

A Kirkuk resident stares at the burned out remains of his car while police officers confer in the background. Photograph by Lucy Kafanov.