A suicide car bomb struck near the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, northern Iraq on Friday afternoon killing three people and wounding eight others. One of the wounded included an American woman, reported Rudaw News. The incident occurred at 5:40pm in the district of Ankawa, which is a predominately Christian area and a popular place for Westerners.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Members of the Kurdish security forces opened fire on the car, blowing it up before it reached the U.S. Consulate. Security sources stated that the car contained large amounts of improvised explosive devices and was under surveillance minutes before entering the district.
The attacker was killed in the blast. The two victims killed in the attack were Turkish citizens and five of the wounded were also Turkish citizens. The Turkish Ministry released a statement directed to the Islamic State stating “We support the Kurdistan region in the war on terror,” reported Rudaw News.
The last suicide car bombing in Erbil took place in November outside the governor’s office that killed four people and wounded 29 others. Attacks in Erbil are rare, as the Kurdistan security forces provide for a stable and secure environment.
Erbil is the regional capitol of Kurdistan, an autonomous region of Iraq, with a population of 8.35 million. Thousands of Westerners work and reside in the Kurdistan region.
There are currently over 1.6 million refugees in the Kurdish region from Iraq and Syria. The Kurdistan Regional Government is known as a place of refuge for people of all religions from Syria and Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government is sheltering over one million refugees, providing security, housing, food and care. The refugee situation in Kurdistan creates a security threat to KRG given the millions of people currently residing in Kurdistan.
A local resident in Kurdistan told Breitbart News that “Islamic State is a major threat to the Kurdish region,” but that they will go on fighting them. She said that “we have been fighters for our land and people and it will last forever, if we die, we only die in dignity.”
Tera Dahl is the Executive Director of the Council on Global Security.