ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Six people were killed on Sunday in a series of blasts targeting a security directorate in the capital of Iraq’s usually peaceful autonomous Kurdistan region, security and medical sources said, the first such attack since 2007.
Kurdistan has largely managed to insulate itself against the violent instability that afflicts the rest of Iraq, where insurgent groups including Sunni Islamist al Qaeda have been regaining momentum this year and striking on a near daily basis.
The relative security has attracted some of the world’s largest oil companies including ExxonMobil (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) to the region, which polices its own borders. Most oil firms operating in Kurdistan are headquartered in Arbil.
The exact sequence of Sunday’s events was not yet clear, but television footage showed the charred remains of what appeared to be at least two car bombs, and gunfire was heard at the scene following the explosions.
A statement posted on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) website cited witnesses saying five suicide bombers had been killed before they were able to detonate themselves.
At least 36 people were wounded in the explosions, according to the city’s health directorate. The victims were believed to be members of the Iraqi Kurdish security forces, known as asayesh. Security across the city was tight after the attack.
There was no indication of who was behind the explosions, which occurred a day after results of the region’s parliamentary elections were announced.
The last major attack in Kurdistan was in 2007, when a truck full of explosives was blown up outside the interior ministry, not far from the site of Sunday’s bombings.
In recent months in neighbouring Syria, a Kurdish militia has been fighting rebels from the Free Syrian Army and the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Additional reporting by Suadad al-Salhy and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad; Editing by Mark Heinrich