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Rare Bombing in Irbil Kills 14; Cheney Meets with Leaders in Baghdad

A truck bomb has exploded near a government office in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region, in a rare attack on the capital, Irbil. Police say at least 14 people were killed and 40 wounded in the blast outside the Kurdistan regional government's Interior Ministry. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Irbil.

The blast occurred just after eight in the morning Wednesday, when officials were arriving for work. Police said the bomber drove a truck carrying soap and detergent and about 100 kilograms of explosives near the Interior Ministry checkpoint and then detonated the bomb.

The blast tore through nearby offices and shops, and shattered windows up to two kilometers away.

At Irbil's emergency hospital, Dr. Deshdi told Kurdish television that most of the dead were security forces but the blast injured several civilians.

The doctor says the hospital has received 28 wounded patients and one dead.

Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region has been largely spared from the sectarian fighting gripping the rest of the country.

There are near daily battles in the cities of Kirkuk and Mosul between Kurds and Arabs. But the Kurdistan region's capital, Irbil, less than 100 kilometers from both cities, has been relatively peaceful.

In April and May of 2006, suicide bombers attacked a police recruitment office and a police training center in separate attacks in Irbil. In May 2005, a suicide bomber killed more than 60 people at the local offices of a Kurdish political party (Kurdistan Democratic Party).

In Baghdad Wednesday, Vice President Dick Cheney arrived on an unannounced visit to urge rival Iraqi political factions to reconcile and to convince them not to take a two-month summer vacation.

The U.S. administration is under increasing pressure from Congress and voters to push Iraqi officials to meet benchmarks for security and stability.

U.S. officials said the vice president will meet with senior Iraqi leaders and assess the Baghdad security operation.