SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - A suicide car bomber blew himself up outside a northern Iraq hotel used by foreigners and government officials on Monday, killing at least one person, a local official said.
Deputy governor of Sulaimaniya province Jotyar Nuri told reporters a policeman had been killed and 31 people were wounded in the blast in Sulaimaniya city, in mostly stable Kurdistan.
A doctor in the city said three people had been killed.
Hundreds of people poured onto the street after the blast outside the seven-storey Sulaimaniya Palace Hotel, a Reuters reporter said.
“The terrorists have changed all our happiness ... to tragedy,” said crying housewife Touba Jamil, whose taxi driver husband was critically wounded in the blast.
The hotel is the biggest in Sulaimaniya and a frequent meeting place for officials of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, one of the two main political parties in largely autonomous Kurdistan.
The blast blew out the windows of the hotel and those of neighbouring buildings and damaged nearby cars, the Reuters reporter said. Concrete blast walls around the hotel seem to have prevented more serious damage.
Sulaimaniya has rarely been troubled by the violence that has racked the rest of the country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and has been the focus of sizeable business investment.
Two suicide bomb attacks killed at least 13 people in Sulaimaniya in 2005.
Reporting by Sherko Raouf, writing by Mohammed Abbas, editing by Dominic Evans