Enclave of relative safety experiences violence
Erbil has been considered a relatively safe area for the thousands of Christians and others who have fled the advance of the Islamic State group over the past year in Iraq.
Now, it appears, ISIS has struck close to where those internally displaced persons are taking refuge.
Reuters reported Friday that a car bombing at the entrance to the U.S. consulate in the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region killed at least one person and wounded five others.
The blast produced a plume of black smoke that rose high above the Ankawa district, a predominantly Christian neighborhood packed with cafes that is popular with foreigners….
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, Reuters said, but "who else could it be" but ISIS, said Juliana Taimoorazy, founder of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council.
Other media have since been reporting that ISIS is taking responsibility.
A source in Erbil told Taimoorazy Friday that several people in a Turkish-owned cafe, including the owners, were killed by the explosion. The site is only seven minutes by foot from a refugee camp, she said.
Reuters noted that such attacks are rare in Erbil, "a haven of relative safety in a country torn apart by insurgency and sectarian strife where, in many areas, bombings are a daily occurrence."
Nihad Qoja, the mayor of Erbil’s city center, told Reuters, "It seems the consulate was the target." The State Department said no U.S. 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.