Turkey's Erdogan condemns deadly Erbil attack on consular staff

Turkey's Erdogan condemns deadly Erbil attack on consular staff
The attackers are reportedly still at large, with roads out of Erbil closed by security forces in order to apprehend the perpetrators who killed at least two people.
2 min read
17 July, 2019
The perpetrator of the attack is yet to be identified [AFP]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned a deadly attack on an Erbil restaurant on Wednesday afternoon that left at least two people dead.

"I condemn the abhorrent attack on our consular employees in Erbil," said the president, according to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu.

Turkey's foreign ministry confirmed that a Turkish diplomat and an Iraqi citizen were killed in the armed attack, matching reports in Turkish and Kurdish media citing officials that two had been killed. At least one other person was wounded, according to local media.

An earlier report by Reuters citing security officials claimed three Turkish diplomats had been killed, among them Turkey's deputy consul general in Erbil. 

The foreign ministry did not specify the post of the Turkish diplomat killed in the attack.

Erdogan added that the local and Iraqi authorities were working to locate the attackers.

The attack reportedly took place at around 2pm at the HuQQabaz restaurant in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Region.

Anadolu reported that the restaurant's owner told local media that two armed men wearing "civilian clothes" had aimed "directly" at consular staff dining at HuQQabaz, a Turkish restaurant with branches in Turkey, Kuwait and Germany.

The attackers then fled the scene and has not yet been caught.

All roads in-and-out of Erbil have reportedly been closed in an attempt to catch the escaped attackers.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Iraqi and local Kurdish authorities were working hard to locate with the assistance of Turkey's foreign ministry.

While neither Turkey nor the local Kurdish authorities are yet to place blame for the attack, initial reports speculated that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) had targeted the consular staff.

The PKK is a Kurdish militia which has been engaged in a long-running conflict with the Turkish military since the 1980s.

It is based in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq, a part of the Kurdistan Region, and is frequently targeted by Turkish airstrikes and military operations.

If those reports are true, analysts say the PKK will suffer punishing repercussions from the Turkish military. 

Such repercussions could target the PKK at its bases in Iraqi Kurdistan or the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an offshoot of the group located in northern Syria.

A PKK official speaking to Westga News denied responsibility for the attack.

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has pledged to answer the "treacherous attack" with the "necessary response".

The US embassy in Baghdad also condemned the attack in a tweet on Wednesday.

"We extend our condolences to the Turkish Mission and express our solidarity in the defense and safety of foreign diplomats and diplomatic missions in Iraq," it said.