Turkish diplomat to Iraq among three dead in Erbil shooting
Officials confirm that Turkey's deputy consul general was killed in the shooting
The Turkish deputy consul general to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq was among three people killed in a shooting at a restaurant in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil on Wednesday, Iraqi officials told The National.
The shooting occurred in a restaurant in a populated area of the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Police are investigating the incident.
“We do not know who is behind the shooting, but someone in a restaurant in Erbil shot four people who are working in the Turkish consulate, including the deputy consul,” Sarkwat Shamsi, an Iraqi member of parliament told The National.
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan, the Kurdish security service and Iraq's Baghdad-based foreign ministry condemned the attack. Turkey's Foreign Ministry said it will take strong action against the perpetrators and vowed to retaliate.
"This afternoon an official of our Consulate General in Erbil has been martyred as a result of a heinous attack, while he was outside of our Consulate compound in Erbil," Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry called on Iraqi authorities to "swiftly" find the perpetrators.
Iraq's Foreign Ministry confirmed that the deputy consul had been killed in the incident.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) condemned the attack and assured residents that the necessary precautions will be taken to ensure the safety and security of the public.
"The government has launched a full investigation and contacted senior Turkish diplomats to offer condolences and provide assistance," said a statement by the KRG.
The US State Department condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms". It added: "There can be no justification for such acts of wanton violence."
Turkey's state media Anadolu said an "employee of Turkey's consulate" in Erbil was killed in the northern city.
The motive for the shooting is still unclear and no official statement has been released by the Turkish consulate in Erbil.
A spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)'s armed branch, an organisation classified as a terror group, denied the group was involved in Wednesday's shooting.
While it is too early to be sure, experts said it may have been carried out by fighters from the group.
Hashim Al Hashimi, an Iraqi security expert, said the attack was likely a violation conducted by the PKK.
“The federal government and the government of Erbil must take the appropriate decision to expel this occupying group from Iraq,” Mr Al Hashimi said.
Mesut Hakki Casin, a member of the security and foreign policy board that advises President Erdogan, said on AHaber TV that the “terror” attack could be related to Turkey’s recent military operation against PKK bases in Iraq. Ankara's forces regularly carry out air raids against PKK targets in northern Iraq with the tacit approval of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of the biggest parties in the autonomous region. raq's central government in Baghdad has occasionally condemned those air strikes, but has not moved to halt them.
Mr Casin said Turkey will “definitely retaliate.”
The PKK, deemed a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and European Union, has waged a three-decade insurgency seeking autonomy for some 15 million Kurds in Turkey.
More than 40,000 people have died in the violence.
Updated: July 17, 2019 10:05 PM