Northern Iraq city of Arbil hit by bombings

Northern Iraq city of Arbil hit by bombings

Northern Iraq city of Arbil hit by bombings

Kurdish Peshmarga remove electoral billboards and posters from the streets of the northern Iraqi city of Arbil. AFP photo

Six people were killed Sept.29 in a series of explosions outside a security directorate in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, a rare attack on an area usually spared violence plaguing the rest of the country.

Gunfire could be heard after the blasts that wounded a further 36 people, according to the city’s health directorate. The victims were believed to be members of the Iraqi Kurdish security forces, known as asayesh.

Television footage showed the charred remains of at least three cars and another in flames. Smoke rose into the air and firefighters and ambulances were at the scene. A statement published on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s website said one car had been targeted by asayesh before it blew up near the Interior Ministry. The KRG statement also cited witnesses as saying five suicide bombers had been killed before they were able to detonate themselves. The blasts were the first to hit Arbil since May 2007, when a truck bomb exploded near the same asayesh headquarters, killing 14 people.

Poll results announced

The blasts came a day after results were announced for the region’s parliamentary elections, which saw an opposition movement in second place ahead of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s party. Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdish region President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have long dominated politics in the three-province autonomous region of northern Iraq.

But with 95 percent of votes counted, the KDP was first with 719,004 votes, the opposition Goran movement second with 446,095, and the PUK third with 323,867, according to results announced by election officials at a news conference Arbil.