At least seven people were killed in a double bomb explosion on the headquarters of a main Iranian Kurdish opposition party based in northern Iraq on Tuesday, a rare attack in the relatively stable autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region.
The blasts hit the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) headquarters in Koya, a small town east of the Kurdistan region’s capital of Irbil, killing five fighters, a local Iraqi Kurdish security member and a child, the party said.
The blasts occurred as they were celebrating the Iranian holiday of Yalda, the longest night of the year.
The PDKI and Iraqi Kurdish security officials suspect Iran was behind the attack. In a tweet, Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish politician who previously was Iraq’s foreign minister and finance minister, blamed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The PDKI has upped attacks on Iranian security forces over the past year, resulting in the death of an unknown number of fighters on both sides. The PDKI is also fighting alongside Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga against the so-called “Islamic State.”
Kurds are spread across Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. In Iran there are about 5 million Kurds who face discrimination and repression. Several groups including Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), its Iranian offshoot the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), the PDKI and the left-wing Komala have fought off-and-on over the years against Iranian security forces in the mountainous border regions of Iraq and Iran. Iran has responded with periodic artillery strikes inside Iraqi Kurdish territory.
The PDKI, the oldest Iranian Kurdish party, has been beset by internal rivalries since its founding and is supported by Iraqi Kurdish parties.