A terrorist-monitoring group says the self-proclaimed Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a bombing near the U.S. consulate in Irbil, Iraq that killed three people and wounded five.
Smoke billowed from the bombsite Friday evening as helicopters patrolled overhead. Local officials say the U.S. consulate was the apparent target.
U.S. officials say no consulate workers were injured or killed.
The U.S. State Department condemned the attack and extended condolences to the families of the victims. Spokeswoman Marie Harf said no U.S. personnel were injured. She said the United States appreciates the rapid response of Kurdistan Regional Government authorities and will work with them to investigate the blast.
But some cafes and restaurants in the trendy Christian neighborhood - popular with foreigners - were destroyed.
Police in Irbil say they can’t identify the body of the bomber because it was burned beyond recognition when the car the bomber was driving caught fire.
Irbil is the capital of Kurdistan, a semi autonomous region of Iraq that is usually one of the most peaceful parts of the country. However Kurdish fighters have been on the front lines fighting the Islamic State, with the support of the U.S.
This local resident says the situation inside the city is increasingly tense. SITE Monitoring Service says the Kirkuk division of the Islamic State in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack less than three hours after the bombing.
Last year, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for another bombing in Irbil that killed five people outside the governor’s house.
A managing editor for ABC News tweeted about reports the car was driven at the U.S. Consulate and that guards opened fire before a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the vehicle.
Wave of bombings
Meanwhile, a series of bombings ripped through Baghdad on Friday, mainly targeting public places and killing at least 29 people, Iraqi officials said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks but violence has escalated both in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq in the wake of Islamic State group's capture of large swaths of territory in the country's west and north during a blitz last year. The Islamic State has taken credit for similar attacks in the past, especially those targeting Shiites, as well as Iraqi security forces and government buildings.
The deadliest of Friday's attacks came when a car bomb detonated near an out-door market in the capital's southwestern Amil neighborhood, killing nine people and wounding 20 there, police officials said.
Half an hour later, a car bomb went off inside a car dealership in the Shiite neighborhood of Habibya in eastern Baghdad, killed eight people, police said. Several cars were burned in the attack.
Earlier, a bomb blast on a commercial street in the southeastern Shiite New Baghdad district killed four people and wounded nine. Also, a bomb exploded near an outdoor market in the Dora neighborhood, killing three shoppers and another bomb blast near a cafe killed three people in the capital's southeastern suburbs.
A roadside bomb exploded near a patrol of Sunni fighters known as Sahwa in southern Baghdad, killing two of the force's members. The Sahwa fighters joined forces with U.S. troops at the height of the Iraq insurgency to fight al-Qaida and other Sunni militants.
Medical officials confirmed the casualties in Friday's attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Some material for this report came from AP.