New details have emerged from the wreckage of a car bombing that occurred Friday just outside the US Consulate in the Iraqi city of Erbil. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed three people and rattled residents of the relatively peaceful Kurdish city that has become a major base for US operations in the region.
Rudaw, an Erbil-based news service, cited an explosives expert as saying the large blast was likely caused by C-4 plastic explosives. The bomb torched several nearby vehicles after it detonated near the heavily guarded entrance to the US Consulate, which is located in a historically Christian neighborhood of the city that is popular with foreigners.
Two of the victims were ethnic Kurds from Turkey, and the third was the attacker, Rudaw reported. At least eight people were injured by the blast, including a young American woman who sustained cuts and burns.
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No State Department personnel were injured in the attack, but the bombing struck at the heart the Kurdish capital of Iraq, which has been mostly insulated from the recent violence caused by the Islamic State elsewhere in the country and in neighboring Syria. Erbil's relative tranquility has made it a hub for diplomats, aid groups, business interests, and US intelligence agencies. The Islamic State was responsible for the last major attack in the city, when a suicide bomber killed five people last November.
The Islamic State's Kirkuk division claimed responsibility for the recent attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist activity online. The militants reportedly posted a message on Twitter saying they "were able to detonate a car bomb on the building of the American Consulate in the city, which led to killing and wounding many of them."
The attack came as a series of bombings killed dozens Friday in Baghdad, including one blast near a car dealership that reportedly left 25 dead.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces have played a key role in halting the Islamic State's advance in Iraq, and are credited with preventing the militants from capturing the largely Kurdish city of Kobane on the border with Turkey.
The Kurdistan Regional Government issued a statement Friday that "strongly condemned" the bombing. "In addition to its barbarity, this terrorists' cowardly act is further evidence of their decline in the face of the Kurdistan Peshmerga forces and resilient people," the statement said. "This crime, like any other terrorists' crime, only strengthens our determination to confront and eradicate them."
The US State Department released a statement thanking Kurdish officials for responding quickly to the blast site.
"We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a rapid recovery for those who were injured," US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said, citing gains against the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, in Mosul and other Iraqi cities. "As Iraqi Security Forces continue to gain strength and ISIL loses territory, it may resort to cowardly attacks and killing civilians and other desperate measures to try to maintain its reign of fear and prove its relevance."
Follow Gillian Mohney on Twitter: @gillianmohney
VICE News' John Beck contributed to this report