Explosion reported near Sulaimaniyah airport in Iraq’s Kurdistan

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An explosion was reported near Sulaimaniyah airport in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region on Friday, security officials said, adding that it caused a fire but no casualties.

The reported blast comes amid tensions with nearby Turkey after Ankara on Wednesday closed its airspace to flights from the city, blaming increased activity of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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Shortly after 4:00 pm (1300 GMT) “an explosion took place near the wall of Sulaimaniyah airport without causing any injuries, but causing a fire which was brought under control by the civil defense,” a statement from the airport security services said.

It added that air traffic had not been disrupted.

Local officials including the deputy premier of the Kurdistan region, Qubad Talabani, spoke of an “attack,” without elaborating.

A statement from Sulaimaniyah province governor Haval Abu Bakr said the explosion was the result of “aerial bombardment” close to the airport.

He called on “all political parties to put an end to their disputes and not make Kurdistan the victim of their struggles.”

Turkey on Wednesday said the freeze on air links with Sulaimaniyah would last until at least July 3 before being reviewed.

“This decision has been taken in the context of the intensification of activities of the PKK at Sulaimaniyah, the intrusion of the terrorist organization at the airport and the threat it poses to air security,” it said.

Abu Bakr at the time urged Ankara to “revise” its decision, saying that “Sulaimaniyah and its airport are secure.”

Turkey and its Western allies consider the PKK to be a “terrorist” organization.

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