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Gunmen storm Iraq Kurdish governor's office, killing one

© AFP | Kurdish security forces stand guard outside the governor's headquarters in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, on July 23, 2018

ARBIL (IRAQ) (AFP) - 

Three gunmen on Monday stormed the governor's headquarters in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, opening fire and killing one employee before being shot dead, officials said.

Initial reports said two gunmen had stormed the building in Arbil in the early morning and had shot and wounded a policeman.

But as the day unfolded the toll rose to one employee killed and several members of the security forces wounded as Kurdish security forces exchanged fire with the attackers, the officials said.

"An employee was killed in the assault on the provincial headquarters," Arbil governor Nawzad Hadi told a news conference.

Deputy police chief for the Kurdish autonomous region Farhad Mohammed said "several members of the security forces were wounded", but did not give a specific toll.

Mohammed said the three gunmen had been "neutralised" after a four-hour exchange of fire with Kurdish security forces.

He described the assault as a "terrorist" attack but stopped short of blaming any particular group for storming the governor's headquarters.

An AFP correspondent near the building said he heard heavy gunfire and a loud explosion, probably from a hand grenade.

Deputy governor Taher Abdullah had earlier said that Kurdish security forces known as the Asayish had set up a security cordon and were searching the building for the assailants.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the usually secure Kurdish regional capital and its motives were unclear.

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed a deadly attack on the interior ministry in Arbil in 2015.

The previous year the group was blamed for a suicide bombing that killed at least four people outside the Arbil Provincial Council Building.

Iraq declared victory over IS in December but the jihadists still hold pockets of territory and continue to carry out deadly attacks.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters took part in the battle against IS after it launched a 2014 offensive in Iraq, seizing nearly a third of the country.

© 2018 AFP