Gunmen Attack Turkish Diplomats in Kurdish Region of Iraq

Gunmen opened fire at Turkish diplomats, killing at least one, in a restaurant in the capital of the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq on Wednesday, according to the Turkish government, and Turkish and Kurdish news outlets.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack in the capital of the Kurdish region, Erbil, which reportedly took place at the Huqqabaz restaurant, between the city center and the main airport. The names of the victims, employees of the Turkish Consulate in the city, were not immediately released.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that, “An official of our Erbil consulate was martyred in a loathsome gun attack.”

The Turkish news outlet Haberturk put the death toll at three.

Haberturk reported that the shooting took place after 2 p.m., as the diplomats were being served lunch, when two attackers using guns with silencers opened fire. It was clear that the Turkish officials were their targets, Haberturk said.

A Kurdish news organization, Rudaw, reported that security forces had put the area on lockdown and told people to avoid it.

Turkey has long fought against some Kurdish factions in the region, battling both a Kurdish-led rebel force in Syria and a Kurdish separatist insurgency within Turkey.

Turkey has also struck bases in the area used by the Kurdish separatist group, the P.K.K., which Turkey and the United States have labeled a terrorist organization, but the semiautonomous Kurdish region and the Turkish government have developed relatively friendly relations and extensive economic ties.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey visited the region in 2011, and this year, the president of the Kurdish area, Nechirvan Barzani, went to Istanbul to meet Mr. Erdogan.

Turkey faces another potent enemy in the area, the Islamic State, which it helped oust from Syria. The Islamic State no longer controls territory in the region, but it remains as an underground movement.

Last week, the Islamic State released a video threatening Mr. Erdogan personally.

Source: NYT

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