ISIS claims deadly Erbil car bomb attack

The blast - which took place close to the U.S. consulate - killed three, although no consulate staff were harmed

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group has claimed responsibility for a car bomb blast that killed three close to the U.S. consulate in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil, the U.S.-based SITE monitoring group said, quoting an ISIS-linked Twitter account.

No consulate staff were hurt, the U.S. State Department said.

Al Arabiya News Channel’s Iraq correspondent Ahmed al-Hamadani said smoke billowed near the site of the explosion.

ISIS holds vast amounts of territory in northern Iraq, including the country’s second largest city of Mosul, although it is currently being held back by making gains on Kurdish territory by the peshmerga forces.

Iraqi Kurdistan is commonly regarded as the most secure region in the conflict-ridden country.

A Reuters witness heard the blast, which was followed by gunfire and sent a column of black smoke high above the Ankawa district, a predominantly Christian neighbourhood packed with cafes popular with foreigners.

“It seems the consulate was the target,” Nihad Qoja, the mayor of Erbil’s city centre, told Reuters.

The head of security for Ankawa said three people were killed and 14 wounded.

“They [ISIS] want to show they are present,” Sherzad Farmand said.

ISIS also claimed responsibility for two car bombings in the Baghdad that killed at least 27 people on Friday.

“The fighters of the Islamic State detonated two car bombs in the heart of the Iraqi capital this evening and a third in Erbil,” the group said via its news agency.

The last major attack in Erbil, also claimed by ISIS, was in November, when a suicide car bomber blew himself up outside the governor’s office, killing five.

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