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'IS' targets US consulate in Irbil suicide attack

A car bomb has exploded outside the US embassy building in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, killing at least three people and wounding five others. The "Islamic State" terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

A plume of black smoke could be seen above the Ankawa district of Irbil Friday afternoon, after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near the city's US consulate and compound, Kurdish security officials said.

A US State Department spokeswoman said that all consulate staff had been accounted for and that "there are no reports of injuries," either to US diplomatic staff or local guards.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant jihadist websites, said the "Islamic State" (IS) terror group had claimed responsibility. It cited an IS Twitter account saying fighters "were able to detonate a car bomb" near the American consulate building, which "led to killing and wounding many of them."

While such car bombings are common in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, they are

relatively rare in Irbil

- the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

The city's last major attack happened in November, when a suicide bomber blew up his car near the governor's office. IS also claimed responsibility for that explosion.

Iraqi Kurdistan is a

key part of the US-led coalition

carrying out airstrikes against IS militants in Iraq. Dozens of US military advisors are stationed there, and the region's peshmerga fighters have been a significant force in driving the extremists out of northern parts of the country in recent months.

nm/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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