Explosion outside US Consulate in northern Iraq as blasts around Baghdad kill 29

A car bomb exploded outside the U.S. Consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil Friday, and a series of bombings ravaged several areas around Baghdad, killing at least 29 people.  

A blast and gunfire was heard in central Irbil, a Reuters witness said, which is unusual in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear. There was no official word on injuries, but a U.S. official said no consulate personnel or guards were hurt or killed in Friday’s blast. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

A security source in Iraq told Fox News an explosion occurred near the American consulate, close to a church named Mar Yusef.

The large blast went off just outside the consulate building in Irbil’s Ankawa neighborhood, setting nearby cars on fire, an Associated Press reporter on the scene said. Kurdish security forces quickly arrived on the scene.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Meanwhile, a series of bombings ripped through Baghdad Friday, mainly targeting public places and killing at least 29 people, Iraqi officials said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks but violence has escalated both in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq in the wake of the Islamic State group’s capture of large swaths of territory in the country’s west and north during a blitz last year

Iraqi government forces and allied Shiite and Sunni fighters– backed by airstrikes from the U.S.-led international coalition– are battling Islamic State militants to retake key cities and territory in northern and western Iraq.

The Islamic State has taken credit for similar attacks in the past, especially those targeting Shiites, as well as Iraqi security forces and government buildings.

The deadliest of Friday’s attacks came when a car bomb detonated near an out-door market in the capital’s southwestern Amil neighborhood, killing nine people and wounding 20 there, police officials said.

Half an hour later, a car bomb went off inside a car dealership in the Shiite neighborhood of Habibya in eastern Baghdad, killed eight people, police said. Several cars were burned in the attack.

Earlier, a bomb blast on a commercial street in the southeastern Shiite New Baghdad district killed four people and wounded nine. Also, a bomb exploded near an outdoor market in the Dora neighborhood, killing three shoppers and another bomb blast near a cafe killed three people in the capital’s southeastern suburbs.

A roadside bomb exploded near a patrol of Sunni fighters known as Sahwa in southern Baghdad, killing two of the force’s members. The Sahwa fighters joined forces with U.S. troops at the height of the Iraq insurgency to fight al Qaeda and other Sunni militants.

Medical officials confirmed the casualties in Friday’s attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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