A car bomb apparently targeting the U.S. consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital Erbil killed one person and wounded five on Friday according to the local mayor. Witnesses heard the blast which was followed by brief gunfire.
“A car bomb exploded outside the entrance to the U.S. consulate,” Nihad Qoja told Reuters. “It seems the consulate was the target.”
An Associated Press reporter who was also on the scene reported that the large blast went off just outside the consulate setting nearby cars on fire. Photographs posted on social media showed black smoke rising from behind multi-story buildings in the Ankawa district, a predominantly Christian neighborhood packed with cafes that is popular with foreign tourists.
There was no immediate word on whether the U.S. compound, which houses diplomats and other staff, was damaged, but a U.S. official said no consulate personnel or guards were killed or injured in the blast and the official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not yet authorized to speak to the press. Kurdish security forces quickly arrived on the scene.
Bombings are rare in Erbil, the capital of semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, an important partner in the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of Iraq. Kurdish peshmerga fighters have driven back Islamic State in northern Iraq with the help of U.S.-led coalition air strikes. Although this attack may signal push back on the part of ISIS/ISIL forces.
AP and Reuters contributed to this report.
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