Eyewitnesses said two car bombs driven by suicide attackers detonated near the ministry. An ambulance was allowed through a few minutes later, but it also exploded as rescuers tried to help victims of the first two bombs, causing further casualties. A fourth car exploded in the vicinity while security forces defused a fifth car bomb inside the parameters of the ministry.
Witnesses said assailants then attacked the ministry with machine guns. Security forces said they had killed “terrorists” who attacked the ministry with hand grenades and machine guns following the car explosions.
The KRG’s minister of health, Rekawt Rashid, said in a statement that “no ambulance belonging to the Ministry of Health was involved in the explosions,” and that “the cars involved came from outside the region.”
Rashid added that “the initial casualty count is six dead and 36 injured, most of whom are from the security forces who attended the first explosions.”
Erbil governor Nawzad Hadi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the incident began with an attack by armed men on the headquarters of the ministry and the Security Department using a number of booby-trapped cars. Clashes erupted between the assailants and the security forces in which a number of the assailants were killed.”
He said reports of cars failing to detonate inside the parameters of the ministry were not accurate. “No booby-trapped cars entered the building and there are no indications of any other cars being present in the area near the incident,” he said, adding that “the type of attack and pre-planning involved suggests the perpetrators are the Al-Qaeda organization, because they previously carried out such attacks in Kurdistan.”
Hadi also said that an investigation into the attacks is underway and the results will be announced as they become available.
The Security Department in Erbil also issued a statement, saying: “The attack began with the explosion of a minibus whose driver tried to enter the Security Department building. The guards fired at him, and he detonated the vehicle in front of the main gate. At the same time, four armed terrorists tried to enter the building after throwing hand grenades and clashing with the guards, but were all killed. A few minutes later, another terrorist tried to enter the building, and when he got close to the security officers, he detonated the vehicle he was driving.”
The statement also said: “The terrorist attack resulted in six martyrs from the security forces and the injury of 42, while six assailants were killed.”