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VIDEO: Suicide attack kills at least 5 in Erbil as residents vow to stand firm

Residents vow to stay firm, insist Iraqi Kurds will defeat Islamic State threat despite violence
The blast in Erbil went off on the main checkpoint on the way to the provincial capital headquarters (AA)

“Who’s the Islamic state?” asked a shopkeeper in Erbil mockingly. “There was only one bomb,” he said in reaction to a bomb blast in the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region on Wednesday.

At least five people were killed, including the Islamic State affiliated assailant who blew themselves up at noon next to the main checkpoint on the way to the provincial capital headquarters. More than 22 others were injured.

“When the bomb happened some people were running away but some people started running towards it,” said Arwan Mishwat, who witnessed the scene from his closed shop.

“It was so chaotic. All of us closed our shops,” he said.

Police are on high alert in Erbil in the midst of a clean-up operation that must deal with several damaged buildings, including a mosque.

Erbil has remained immune to consistent large-scale attacks. Wednesday’s bombing is the worst since September 2013, when militants struck a security headquarters, killing seven and wounding over 60.

But in spite of the blood-stained street, scarred vehicles and scattered debris, some residents remain defiant.

“Everyone in Kurdistan is ready to face off Islamic State,” said Mishwat.

Referring to a history of marginalisation under former president Saddam Hussein, whose forces massacred up to 100,000 Kurds in the wake of the first Gulf War, a local shopkeeper told MEE that: “Saddam Hussein couldn’t defeat us and nor will the Islamic State.”

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