A car bomb at the entrance to the US consulate in the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Erbil, has killed at least three people and wounded eight others.
“A car bomb exploded outside the entrance to the US consulate,” Nihad Qoja, the mayor of Erbil’s city centre, told Reuters news agency on Friday. “It seems the consulate was the target.” Qoja added.
The State Department said no US personnel were killed in the blast that it said was caused by a “vehicle-borne improvised explosive device” that went off right outside the entrance to the heavily guarded compound.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levante (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for the car bomb, the group’s monitoring group SITE said on Friday.
It cited an ISIL account on Twitter saying fighters from its Kirkuk division “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”.
Al Jazeera’s Kim Vinnell, reporting from Erbil, said the blast came days after US and Kurdish officials had applauded the advances they had made against ISIL in Iraq.
“But again it’s too early to say whether gains have been made,” Vinnell said.
Meanwhile, in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, bombings left at least 31 people dead on Friday, officials said.
The deadliest of Friday’s attacks came when a car bomb went off inside a car dealership in the neighbourhood of Habibya in eastern Baghdad, killing ten people and wounding 23 others, police said.
Half an hour earlier, a car bomb detonated near an out-door market in the capital’s southwestern Amil neighbourhood, killing nine people and wounding 20 others, police officials said.
Earlier, a bomb blast on a commercial street in the southeastern New Baghdad district killed four people and wounded nine.
Also, a bomb exploded near an outdoor market in the Dora neighbourhood, 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.
Top Saddam aide killed
Meanwhile governor of Salahuddin province, Raed al-Jubouri, said on Friday that former Iraqi vice president and prominent aide of Saddam Hussein, Izzal al-Douri, was killed by Iraqi forces and allied militiamen near Tikrit – Saddam’s birth town.
The claim was later denied by a Baath party spokesman.
Douri was the former deputy of late president Saddam Hussein who for over a decade was the top fugitive from the ousted regime.
It was not the first time Iraqi officials have claimed to have killed or captured al-Douri, who was the “king of clubs” in the deck of playing cards issued to help American troops identify key regime fugitives after the 2003 US-led invasion ousted Saddam.
DNA tests were underway to confirm whether a body recovered from fighting around the city of Tikrit was al-Douri’s, an Iraqi official told AP news agency.