Big blast rocks Erbil
A big explosion rocked Erbil today morning, as a suicide bomber drove his truck into the gate of Erbil's security headquarters and Interior Ministry.
The blast which took place at 8:00 a.m. local time was the first in almost two years, after Erbil had seen no bombings since June 2005. Kurdistan's health Minister Ziryan Abdurrahman told reporters that 19 people were killed and 80 others injured.
There were conflicting reports about the use of acid capsules or cleaning materials by the suicide car bomber.
A source from Erbil's Security Office told the Globe that they estimate the truck to have carried around 800 kilos to one ton of explosives, but said they don't have any clues yet on the identity of the suicide bomber. He rejected the use of acid capsules by the suicide bomber.
The newly-built three-story building of the Interior Ministry and the Erbil Security Headquarters were seriously damaged by the blast.
The source said they have started extensive investigations into the issue and will announce the results once the investigations finish.
A statement by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) condemned the "cowardly and barbaric act" and pledged to secure "the peace and stability" of Kurdistan.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, but the style and tactic resemble those used by al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups in others parts of Iraq.
Earlier, a senior Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman told the AP that the al-Qaeda linked group of Ansar al-Sunnah was behind the attack.
Meanwhile, government sources in Sulaimaniya- the second largest city of Kurdistan Region after Erbil- said today that they managed on last Monday's evening to discover and defuse several bombs planted in the building of Sulaimaniya's Culture Office.
Following today's blast hospitals in Erbil were full of people, who had rushed there to know about the fate of their loved ones who were in the site of the attack. Hundreds of people were also present to donate blood for the injured.
Security forces had earlier announced the arrest of several extremists in Erbil and Sulaimaniya who wee involved in "terrorist acts" and were plotting new bombings.
In Sulaimaniya, a group of 14 suspects who were plotting to drop chemical gases on the city were detained by the security services there.
Kurdistan that has been spared the bloody violence in the rest of the country, has witnessed increasing attempts over the past months for launching attacks against targets in the area.