Kurdish authorities arrest alleged IS cell behind bomb attack near 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 an alleged Islamic State group cell that they said was responsible for the deadly bomb attack two weeks ago next to 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, Irbil, that killed three people and wounded five. No Americans were killed or wounded, and the consulate was not damaged.

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.

The United Nations meanwhile said gunmen abducted a local staffer 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 U.N. staffer's brother said the family has received a $100,000 ransom demand for his release. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

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

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, which were 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.

On Tuesday night, a sticky bomb attached to a minibus exploded in central Baghdad, killing four passengers and wounding seven others, said police and a hospital medic.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to journalists.

Associated Press writers Paul Schemm and Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.

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