Three people, including the Turkish deputy consul, have been killed in a shooting at a restaurant in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, according to local media. Police confirmed the death of the Turkish diplomat.
The shooting was reported shortly after 2pm local time, and took place at a restaurant in an upmarket area of Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital city. While local media reported that all three victims were officials with the Consulate General, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry only confirmed the death of one diplomat.
Kurdish authorities sealed off roads around the scene and searched nearby cars and businesses. The gunmen have not yet been found.
Though no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, tension between Turkey and the Kurds is nothing new. Turkey has fought a low-level armed campaign against Kurdish separatists for more than four decades, including raids and incursions into Kurdish territory in Iraq. Wednesday’s attack in Erbil comes just over a week after Turkish airstrikes killed Diyar Gharib Mohammed, a senior leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in a mountainous area near the Iraq-Turkey border.
In addition, Turkey has been poised for months to send its forces into Manbij, Syria, an area partially under the control of Kurdish militias. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long angled for the creation of a ‘security zone’ along his country’s Syrian border, in a bid to blunt the threat of Kurdish fighters there.