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Gunmen open fire and enter Erbil governorate building in Iraq's Kurdish region -officials

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Gunmen open fire and enter Erbil governorate building in Iraq's Kurdish region -officials

Gunmen open fire and enter Erbil governorate building in Iraq's Kurdish region -officials
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AZAD LASHKARI(Reuters)
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By Azad Lashkari

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Gunmen entered the governorate building in Erbil, the seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq on Monday, and fired from windows at security forces, a deputy governor of the city and Kurdish security officials said.

Two policemen were wounded. Security forces have cleared the streets around the building in the commercial sector of Erbil, capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

It was not immediately clear who the attackers were.

"At around 7:45 am two gunmen approached the entrance of the governorate and opened fire at the guards. They managed to enter and now they are on the third floor," said the deputy governor, Tahir Abdullah.

"Security forces have surrounded the building and entered the ground floor, preparing to attack the assailants."

The gunmen seized weapons from the guards. The men were shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest), said a spokesman for the KRG.

These types of attacks are rare in Erbil, one of the most stable cities in Iraq, although Islamic State, which has been largely defeated in Iraq, has carried out bombings in the city in the past. The group has targeted Kurdish forces and civilians in recent years.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters, along with Iraqi government forces and a U.S.-led coalition, waged war against Islamic State militants, who had occupied a third of the country.

Iraq declared victory over the ultra-hardline Sunni group in December. It has carried out attacks in some parts of Iraq, a close ally of the United States.

(Reporting by Azad Lashkari; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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