Turkish Diplomat, Civilian Shot Dead in Iraqi Kurdish Capital; Gunman Flees

Security forces launch manhunt after rare attack on a restaurant where Turkish envoys meet, risking raising tensions between Kurdish groups and Ankara

Kurdish security members gather near a restaurant where Turkish diplomats and Turkish consulate employee were killed in Erbil, Iraq, July 17, 2019.
\ AZAD LASHKARI/ REUTERS

At least two people including a Turkish diplomat were shot dead on Wednesday in a rare attack in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil, Kurdish security officials and Turkey's foreign ministry said.

A gunman opened fire at a restaurant where Turkish diplomats were dinning before fleeing in a car driven by an accomplice, two Kurdish security officials and a witness said.

Security forces began a search for the attackers, the Kurdish officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Turkey's foreign ministry said one of those killed was a diplomat working at its consulate to Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Erbil.

A statement from the Kurdistan region's internal security service said two people were killed - the diplomat and another civilian - and one other person wounded.

The Kurdish officials and Iraqi state television earlier said three people were killed and that they were all Turkish diplomats and included the deputy consul.

One witness told Reuters that an attacker entered the restaurant and started shooting before he fled in a car that was waiting for him outside.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan, the Kurdish security service and Iraq's Baghdad-based foreign ministry condemned the attack.

Turkey's main enemy in northern Iraq is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in southeastern Turkey and has bases across the border.

Ankara's forces regularly carry out air raids against PKK targets in northern Iraq with the tacit approval of the KDP.

Iraq's central government in Baghdad has occasionally condemned those air strikes, but has not moved to halt them.