Turkey 'neutralises' suspected PKK instigator of fatal Erbil diplomat attack
Turkey's military and intelligence agency has "neutralised" the instigator behind an attack that killed a Turkish diplomat and two others in Erbil last week, state news agency Anadolu said on Friday.
Turkish Vice Consul to Erbil Osman Kose and two Iraqi nationals were shot dead in the attack on a high-end restaurant in the Iraqi Kurdistan regional capital last week.
The autonomous region's security council earlier this week said its counterterrorism unit had arrested "the main perpetrator" of the attack, Mazloum Dag, a 27-year-old from Turkey's Diyarbakir region, and later announced it had also arrested his "accomplice" Mohammad Biskesiz.
Erdogan Unal, identified as a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) official responsible for plotting the attack, was "neutralised" on Wednesday, Anadolu said on Friday.
Turkish authorities commonly refer to the "neutralisation" of PKK members. The term can denote deaths but it can also refer to those wounded or captured.
The operation was carried out in Iraq's mountainous Qandil region, where PKK fighters are based.
The PKK is a Kurdish nationalist militia engaged in a long insurgency against the Turkish state. While the organisation was founded in Turkey, where it remains active and is considered a terrorist organisation, the PKK is now based in Iraqi Kurdistan and is affiliated to the Kurdish autonomous administration and forces in northern Syria.
The shooting of the diplomat followed weeks of a renewed Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.
In response to the attack, Turkey stepped up its airstrikes on Qandil.
A spokesman for the PKK's armed wing denied responsibility for the attack almost immediately.
Senior PKK commander Bahoz Erdal in an interview with the PKK-affiliated Serk TV station again denied responsibility for the attack, which he criticised as "amateur".
But the commander also praised the attackers, accusing Kose of having been a Turkish intelligence agent responsible for the killing of PKK official Diyar Gharib, rather than a diplomat.
Erdal noted that the perpetrators had been "sympathisers" of the PKK and "thanked" them.