BAGHDAD, ANKARA: An improvised explosive device blew up outside an English-language institute in southern Iraq early Friday without causing any casualties, Iraqi police said in a statement, amid a recent uptick in attacks targeting the American presence in Iraq.
The blast damaged the facade of the American Institute for English Learning in the city of Najaf, a statement from the province’s police directorate said.
The school is not formally affiliated with any institutions in the US. It was believed to have been targeted because it offered English-language lessons to Iraqis. No Americans were employed there.
Attacks targeting the US presence have been on the rise since Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi traveled to Washington last month to conclude strategic talks. Rocket attacks routinely target the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government, where the US Embassy is located.
Roadside bombs also often hit convoys carrying materials destined for the US military. Hours before Friday’s attack on the English language center, a roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi convoy transporting equipment headed for the US-led coalition without causing any losses.
Last week, a roadside bomb targeted a British diplomatic convoy in Baghdad, without causing any casualties.
There are more than 5,000 American troops in Iraq now. Last month, the top US general for the Middle East said he believed the US will keep a smaller but enduring presence in the country.
Turkish troops killed
Meanwhile, two Turkish soldiers were killed and another was wounded after Kurdish militants fired rockets at a military base in northern Iraq, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Turkey has regularly attacked Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, both in its mainly Kurdish southeast and in northern Iraq, where the group is based. In June, Ankara launched a new ground offensive, dubbed Operation Claw-Tiger, that saw Turkish troops advance deeper into Iraq.
The ministry said “harassment fire” by rocket launchers on Thursday killed the two troops at one of Turkey’s bases in neighboring Iraq.
The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict focused in southeast Turkey.
In a separate statement, the Interior Ministry said 71 PKK militants had been killed since July 13 as part of a series of operations within Turkey, dubbed the “Lightning Operations,” and added 38 collaborators had also been captured.