On the eve of the historic referendum on independence, Kurds across the region were celebrating. Young people honked their horns and shot celebratory gunfire into the air of major cities.

But not in Tuz Khurmatu, an Iraqi town of more than 100,000 that is violently split among Kurds and Shiite Turkmen, who oppose Monday's referendum.

"I hope the referendum will be canceled," said Luay, a Turkman shopkeeper in Tuz. "If they don't, the Kurds will take over by force and there won't be any Turkmen or Arabs left."