Turkish diplomat shot dead in Iraqi Kurdistan

A Turkish diplomat was among two people killed in an attack in Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region.

The victims are thought to be Turkey’s deputy consul general in the city and a civilian. Turkey has already vowed to retaliate.

The diplomat was among a group of people eating at a restaurant when gunmen opened fire.

No-one has so far claimed the attack, but Kurdish rebels who have fought Turkey for decades operate in the area.

In a statement on Twitter, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said a “necessary response will be given to those who committed this treacherous attack”.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that they were working with the Iraqi authorities to find the perpetrators.

Details are still emerging, but the shooting took place on Wednesday afternoon at HuQQabaz restaurant in Irbil’s Empire City neighbourhood.

Initial reports said that three diplomats had been killed in the attack.

But the Kurdistan Region’s internal security forces, known as the Asayish, later said that two people had been killed, including Turkey’s deputy consul general.

The Asayish did not say if the other two victims were also Turkish consulate staff.

The three attackers are thought to still be at large, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters from private broadcaster NTV in Ankara.

“We are collaborating with the Iraqi authorities to find the perpetrators, to find out the motive, and to make sure all details are unveiled,” he said.

“We will send a delegation [to Irbil] if necessary… We will do anything necessary to make sure everything is revealed.”

The shooting comes as Turkey continues its crackdown on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the area.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the PKK’s conflict with Turkey over Kurdish autonomy, which began in 1984.

PKK fighters use mountainous areas along the border between Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdistan Region as a sanctuary and to stage attacks on Turkish forces.

Turkey has put pressure on Iraq’s government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to help it contain the group.

Although no-one has said they were behind the attack, it coincides with the killing of several senior PKK leaders in Turkish air strikes on Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, as well as an ongoing cross-border operation by the Turkish military, and the reported build-up of Turkish troops on the frontier with Kurdish-controlled northern Syria. –BBC

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