Conflicts & War

1 dead, several wounded in missile attack on Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital

(Updates with revised casualty count, death toll. Adds info.)

Baghdad, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- A US soldier was wounded and a contractor died Monday night when a number of missiles struck the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil, three of them hitting the city’s international airport, US-led international coalition authorities in the autonomous region in northern Iraq reported, although they did not say from where the missiles had been fired.

The coalition said that a civilian contractor died and five contractors and one US soldier were wounded” in the “indirect fire” from rocket blasts in Erbil.

Shortly before that, the Defense Ministry in the autonomous Kurdish region has reported that an undetermined number of rockets had been launched at the city, wounding an unknown number of people.

“At 9:30 pm today (Monday), several missiles were launched toward the city of Erbil and its environs, where they impacted at several sites and, according to preliminary information, caused injuries to several people,” the regional Interior Ministry said in its statement.

According to another communique by Kurdistan’s anti-terrorist forces, two of the rockets hit the international airport, near which is the Harir military base used by the US-led international coalition fighting the jihadist Islamic State, and another missile hit nearby.

The anti-terrorist forces did not say if anyone was wounded or any material damage resulted at the airport, but they did say that the third rocket hit the wall of an apartment complex and wounded two people.

Shortly after the attack, a heretofore unknown group calling itself Aulia al Dam posted a video on YouTube with text in which it claimed responsibility for the missile strikes, saying that it had directed the attack “against the US occupation in the northern part of the country.”

“We approached the Harir occupation base in Erbil to a distance of seven kilometers (4.3 miles) and managed to carry out a devastating attack with 24 missiles that, with precision, reached their targets,” the video declared, although its authenticity has not yet been able to be verified.

The video added that “vehicles, warehouses and aircraft of the occupation (were damaged) and its personnel were wounded.”

The Iraqi Interior Ministry said that it will investigate the attack and asked the public to stay away from the impact sites and remain inside while authorities gather more information about the attack.

Iraq’s official INA news agency announced the formation of a joint investigatory commission between the central government in Baghdad and the regional government in Kurdistan headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kazemi to determine who was behind the attack.

In contrast to other parts of northern and central Iraq, Kurdistan is free of the presence of the Islamic State, although currently a campaign is under way against the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) by the Turkish army in the border area between the two countries.

The Erbil airport was attacked last September with six rockets that caused no material damage or injuries. The persons and/or group staging that attack have never been identified.

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