IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — A Danish national was killed by a roadside bomb while riding a bicycle in northern Iraq, local Kurdish authorities in the country said Friday, blaming Turkish Kurdish insurgents to have placed the machine.
According to a Dohuk area police statement, Torbjorn Methmann died in an explosion on Thursday. Police said Methmann and his companion, William Karlsson, also of Danish nationality, were cycling in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq when Methmann’s bike hit the roadside bomb.
The couple were on their way to the town of Amedi, a popular tourist attraction in the region known for its archaeological sites. The statement also said that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, an insurgent group from neighboring Turkey, was behind the attack.
Iraqi Kurdish officials could not be reached for comment and the statement provided no evidence to support this claim. Iraq is littered with landmines and unexploded ordnance left over from years of conflict.
Danish authorities confirmed that a Danish citizen had died in northern Iraq, but did not say more.
Cycling tours are not very common in the area, due to unpaved roads and poor infrastructure.
Iraqi authorities have tried to open the country to tourism in recent years, and the federal government in Baghdad offers visas to tourists upon arrival. The Kurdish-ruled north, considered safer and more stable than the rest of Iraq, generally sees more tourists.
The PKK, a militant group that has been waging an insurgency against Turkey since the 1980s, has havens in northern Iraq and even controls parts of Dohuk province near the Turkish border. Ankara regularly bombs these positions and criticizes the Iraqi Kurdish government, accusing it of not doing more to root out the PKK from its territory.