ISIL attack kills three at Turkish cafe near US consulate in Erbil
AA photoA car bombing claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed three people on April 17 outside the U.S. consulate in Erbil, in a relatively rare attack in the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Two Turkish citizens were killed in the attack while five people among the 10 injured were also Turkish citizens, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement early April 18.
The Nili cafeteria, operated by Turkish citizens and frequently visited by foreigners in the city, was severely damaged, according to Anadolu Agency. Twelve automobiles and 30 shops were damaged in the attack, the report said.
Sources at the Rizgari Hospital and those close to the victims told the Anadolu Agency that the two Turkish victims had been identified as Sadettin Şan, 29, and Bilind Önen, 34.
Both were registered in the Turkish province of Mardin's Derik district, while their families lived in Diyarbakır province.
According to the sources close to the victims, Şan used to work at a tourism company that sold flight tickets in Erbil, while Önen worked at the Erbil branch of a company dealing in construction tools.
No U.S. personnel were hurt in the blast, according to the U.S. State Department, which said a "vehicle-borne improvised explosive device" exploded right outside the entrance to the heavily fortified compound.
Iraq's Kurdish region is an important partner for the U.S.-led coalition in its campaign to "degrade and destroy" ISIL, which overran large parts of Iraq last summer and threatened to reach Erbil.
A Reuters witness heard the blast, which was followed by gunfire and 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 (ISIL) want to show they are present," Sherzad Farmand said.
ISIL also claimed responsibility for two car bombings in the Baghdad that killed at least 27 people on April 17.
"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.
U.S. officials said they found ISIL claim of responsibility for the Erbil consulate attack credible. "We have no reason to doubt their claim of responsibility," a U.S. counterterrorism official told Reuters.
Such attacks are relatively rare in the territory of the KRG, which has managed to insulate itself from the worst of the violence afflicting the rest of Iraq.
The last major attack in Erbil, also claimed by ISIL, was in November, when a suicide car bomber blew himself up outside the governor's office, killing five.