BAGHDAD (AP) — A twin suicide car bombing and ensuing firefight in the capital of Iraq's largely peaceful self-ruled northern Kurdish region killed at least six members of the security forces and wounded 30 others on Sunday, officials said.
Kurdish officials did not blame any militant group for the bombings in Irbil, the third major attack to hit the three-province region since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, saying only that they are awaiting results of an investigation.
The governor, Nawzad Hadi, said a suicide car bomber tried to ram his car early afternoon into a checkpoint leading to a complex housing the Interior Ministry and other security agencies in downtown Irbil. As rescuers and people gathered at the scene, another bomber driving an ambulance attacked, Hadi added.
A few minutes later, gunmen exchanged fire with security forces, and at least three attackers were killed, he said.
The regional Health Minister, Raikot Hama Rasheed, confirmed the casualty figures.
Security forces sealed off the area, making it difficult to ascertain the level of damage inflicted on the Interior Ministry and nearby buildings, but a Kurdish local TV station showed black smoke billowing near one building as fire engines and ambulances rushed to the scene.
The Kurdish self-rule region has been largely peaceful compared to the rest of Iraq. The attack is only the third major foray into the area by insurgents since a 2007 suicide truck bomb hit the Interior Ministry, killing 14 people, and a 2004 twin suicide attack killed 109.
Violence continued Sunday on other parts of the country.
A car bomb ripped through a vegetable market in the northeastern Baghdad suburb of Hussainya, killing five civilians and wounding 14 others, a police officer said. And drive-by shooters armed with pistols fitted with silencers and killed an employee at the Electricity Ministry while traveling through Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood, another police officer said.
In the city of Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on a check point manned by pro-government, anti-al-Qaida Sunni militiamen, killing one and wounding three, police said. Members of the Sunni militia, known as Sahwa, joined U.S. troops in the war against al-Qaida at the height of Iraqi insurgency and are considered traitors by insurgents.
Three medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
More than 4,500 people have been killed since April in a surge of violence by insurgents aimed at undermining confidence in the government.
Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Mohammed Jambaz in Irbil contributed to this report.