Erbil Car Bomb Attack

I’m writing from Erbil, where I’d planned what I assumed would be an interesting but uneventful visit for a couple of weeks.

About 24 hours after I checked in at my hotel, I was resting up from the flight when I heard a loud BOOM outside, not too far from the hotel, followed by an intermittent popping sound like firecrackers.  “Gee,” I thought, “If I were in the Middle East, I might think it was a terrorist attack.  Oh, wait ….”

I looked out the window.  People appeared to be mostly going about their business; if I was expecting mass panic, it was not to be found.  A few people were talking apprehensively to one another, or talking on cellphones or listening to radios pressed to the ear.  Within a few minutes, the sirens started.

You couldn’t see the attack site directly from my location, but you could see a column of smoke rising from behind the intervening buildings.

Erbil 2015-04-17.
Erbil 2015-04-17.
Erbil 2015-04-17.
Erbil 2015-04-17.

There’s not much to see in these pictures, but now you know what a traffic jam in Erbil looks like.

Rudaw reports that two Turkish nationals of Kurdish background were killed and a number of others, including an American woman, were injured.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An explosives expert said Islamic State used a form of plastic explosive known as Composition C-4 in its suicide car bombing on Friday in Erbil, producing a massive blast that killed two civilians, now known to be Turkish citizens, and the attacker.

The bombing occurred near the heavily guarded entrance to the US Consulate in the historically Christian district of Ainkawa, a neighborhood popular with foreigners. Security officers attempted to stop the vehicle when it detonated its C-4 payload, torching nearby vehicles and injuring eight civilians, including a young American woman who received cuts and burns.

Terrorist attacks in Erbil are not unknown but they are extremely rare.  The last one that got through was in 2013.