A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up near the home of a prominent Kurdish politician in northern Iraq on Thursday night, officials said.

No other casualties were reported.

Security officials at the scene said they believed the man was a member of the Islamic extremist group Ansar al-Islam, which the United States has accused of harboring fugitives from Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.

But the city's security chief, Sarkawt Kuba, said the suspected bomber belonged to another group, which he declined to identify.

The bombing took place on a street behind the home of Kosrat Rasool Ali, a top official in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which rules the eastern half of the Kurdish autonomous area in northern Iraq.

The explosion broke windows in nearby apartment buildings.

A neighborhood resident said he was watching television in his home when he heard the explosion and ran downstairs.

"I saw a man whose body was broken into two pieces," said Abdul Qader Mohammed, who added that he saw a handgun near the body. "He was wearing a scarf around his face and only his eyes were showing."

The secular government and Islamic militants in northern Iraq have for months fought a low intensity war of suicide bombings, assassinations and exchanges of mortar fire.