ISIS targeted the U.S. Embassy in Irbil today, with a suicide car bomb detonating in the Kurdish capital at about 5:30 p.m. local time.
Kurdish news site Rudaw noted that the embassy is located in a Christian neighborhood, Ainkawa, which is frequented by Westerners and was busy on a Friday evening.
The bomb detonation was followed by about an hour of gunfire being exchanged between Kurdish security forces and the terrorists.
“The duck-and-cover protocol was activated at the U.S. consulate. All chief of mission personnel have been accounted for. There are no reports of injuries to chief of mission personnel or to the local guards,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters today.
“Host nation fire assets responded to extinguish the fire. Local authorities have also responded and are securing the area. We appreciate the rapid response of the Kurdistan and regional government authorities to this matter, and we will work with them to investigate the incident to determine the facts behind the explosion.”
Kurdish media reported that one American was injured in the attack; the State Department said no embassy personnel were hurt. Four people were killed and 18 injured in the attack. ISIS claimed responsibility on Twitter.
Harf was asked about the shock of terrorists infiltrating an otherwise safe city.
“I think that Iraq remains a dangerous place. Many parts of it do. So I’m not going to get into specifics, but we know that the security environment there is quite a challenging one, and obviously take a number of security precautions when it comes to our people and our facilities,” she said.
Angus King (I-Maine) said on CNN moments ago that there wasn’t “final confirmation” to lawmakers that ISIS was behind the attack, but noted that it was a “pretty sophisticated and powerful bomb” that targeted the embassy.
“It really is very difficult to secure a major city,” King said, adding that heightened security protocols at the embassy “served their purpose today.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he’s “closely monitoring” the developments.
“I was just in Irbil earlier this month, visiting with local officials and security personnel,” Gardner said. “The Kurdish people are our allies in the war against extremism in the region, and it’s important for the United States to continue to offer them our support.”
— Yuko (@kusamiyo) April 17, 2015
— Muslimah1 (@_Muslimah1111) April 17, 2015