An explosion struck Friday outside the entrance to the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, Iraq, with initial reports describing it as a car bomb.
Kurdish news agency Rudaw called the incident a suicide attack and alleged that 3 bystanders were killed. A short period of gunfire was heard after the initial blast, but died down shortly thereafter, according to Reuters. Erbil’s mayor said that one person died and that the consulate was the target of the attack.
The consulate is located in Ankawa, a busy and largely safe majority-Christian suburb of Erbil near the airport. Erbil is the capital of Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in Iraq’s north.
The consulate and adjacent compound serve as an office and housing for American diplomats and consular staff in the city. The State Department said that none of its employees were harmed.
No terrorist group claimed initial responsibility for the attack.
Kurdish militias, called the Peshmerga, have fought to beat back the Islamic State terror group since it first began pushing across Iraq last year. Erbil, and Ankawa in particular, have become a home for thousands of Christian refugees from territory that is now controlled by IS.
Though there was no damage to the consulate, the attack destroyed a nearby café, which is reportedly popular with Westerners in the city. Since last year, foreign aid workers have come to Kurdistan in significant numbers to help manage the refugee crisis.
A police station was also situated near the bomb blast. The situatation is still developing, and investigations are underway.
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