Kurdish authorities arrest alleged IS cell behind bomb attack against US mission in Iraq

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Civilians and security forces gather at the scene of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad's western district of Mansour, Iraq, Monday, April 27, 2015. A series of car bombings targeting busy commercial areas in Iraq's capital left many civilians killed and others wounded, officials said. (AP Photo)

BAGHDAD — Kurdish authorities announced Tuesday the arrest of a cell with alleged links to the Islamic State group that they say is responsible for the deadly bomb attack two weeks ago against the U.S. consulate in northern Iraq.

The statement said the five-member cell had been in contact with the Islamic State group over the past several months while planning the car bomb attack in the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil that killed three people and wounded five. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Four of the suspects were described as residents of Irbil, while the fifth is an Arab resident based in the city of Kirkuk. One more suspect is still at large, the statement added.

In Baghdad, the United Nations said gunmen abducted a local staffer working for the organization in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala.

Eliana Nabaa, a spokeswoman for the U.N. mission, said the man was kidnapped on Sunday in the city of Baqouba near the government headquarters.

A local security official said the man was grabbed from his car during the day. The victim's brother said the family has received a $100,000 ransom demand for the U.N. staffer's release.

Kidnapping for ransom and over political issues has long been rife in Iraq.

Also, eight bodies with gunshot wounds to their heads and chests were found in different parts of two Sunni-majority neighborhoods in western Baghdad, police said. Officers said they found no IDs with the bodies discovered in the Jihad and Ghazaliyah neighborhoods.

Dead bodies left in the street were a common occurrence during the widespread sectarian violence that engulfed Iraq several years ago.

All officials and the relative of the kidnapped U.N. staffer spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to journalists or feared reprisal attacks.

Associated Press writer Paul Schemm contributed to this report.

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