Deadly car bomb targets US consulate in Iraq’s Erbil

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A car bombing at the entrance to the US consulate in the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region killed at least one person and wounded five others on Friday the local mayor said.

The State Department said no US personnel were killed in the blast that it said was caused by a “vehicle-borne improvised explosive device” that went off right outside the entrance to the heavily guarded compound.

Semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan is an important partner in a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of Iraq.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

A witness heard the blast which was followed by brief gunfire. Such attacks are rare in Erbil, a haven of relative safety in a country torn apart by insurgency and sectarian strife where, in many areas, bombings are a daily occurrence.

“A car bomb exploded outside the entrance to the U.S. consulate,” Nihad Qoja, the mayor of Erbil’s city center, told Reuters. “It seems the consulate was the target.”

He said the bomber had killed one person and wounded five others. It was not immediately clear who had been killed.

The blast produced a plume of black smoke that rose high above the Ankawa district, a predominantly Christian neighbourhood packed with cafes that is popular with foreigners.