A Turkish diplomat and one other person were shot dead in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, Turkey’s foreign ministry said.
According to Kurdish officials and an eyewitness who shared the details, a gunman opened fire while Turkish diplomats were having dinner at a restaurant in the city.
Kurdish security forces have since begun searching for the murderers but have declined to share further details as investigations are ongoing.
The is an attack in the city is rare as it is known as one of the safest in the region.
The attack comes in the wake of Turkey’s new military operation against the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a group based in northern Iraq.
The PKK is Ankara’s main enemy in Iraq, which has been carrying decades-long insurgency in the south-eastern part of Turkey.
Turkey’s foreign ministry confirmed that one of those killed on Wednesday was a diplomat working at its consulate to semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.
Turkey and Kurdish Democratic Party, the governing party in Erbil have blamed the PKK for its activities against Turkey in northern Iraq including the group’s storming of a Turkish military camp earlier this year, Reuters reported.
KDP officials have since assured Ankara they will work closely to shed light on the deadly attack.
“Nobody invited them (the PKK) here, we disapprove of their activities and … of their presence here. We understand the concerns of the neighboring countries about security issues,” Prime Minister Masrour Barzani told Reuters and added Erbil would look to strengthen relations with Turkey.
Turkey has been conducting military operations in northern Iraq for many years against PKK and has called Baghdad to take a more active role to defeat the PKK.
Turkey is also involved in battles against PKK’s allies in northern Syria.
The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States, several other countries and international organizations, including NATO and the European Union. Since 1984, more than 40,000 Turkish citizens have been killed as a result of PKK’s attacks.