IRBIL, IRAQ: The death toll from Wednesday’s attack on Turkish consular employees in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region has risen to three after one victim died of his wounds, his family told AFP.
The Turkish vice consul and one Iraqi citizen were shot dead by at least one attacker on Wednesday in a restaurant in the northern regional capital of Irbil, a police source told AFP.
The shooting also wounded another Iraqi, 26-year-old Bashdar Ramadan, who died overnight, his cousin told AFP on Thursday.
According to Turkish state media, the lone attacker was dressed in plainclothes and carried two guns when he stormed the restaurant in Irbil’s Ainkawa district.
Checkpoints were quickly erected in and around the neighborhood, but the perpetrators are still on the run.
“The relevant authorities have launched a thorough investigation to find and prosecute the perpetrators of this criminal act,” said the Kurdistan Regional Government in an online statement.
It warned against anyone trying to “harm the security and stability” of the autonomous region.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, which came as Turkey wages a ground and bombing offensive against bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
The PKK is classified as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the US and the EU because of the three-decade insurgency it has waged against the Turkish state.
Earlier this month, the PKK announced senior leader Diyar Gharib Mohammed and two other fighters had been killed in a Turkish raid.
A spokesman for the PKK’s armed branch denied the group was involved in Wednesday’s shooting.
Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for the Turkish president, vowed “the necessary response will be given to those who committed this treacherous attack.”
In Baghdad, the UN mission to Iraq called for “maximum restraint” from all sides.
The US Embassy offered its condolences to the Turkish mission after the “heinous” attack, calling for “the defense and safety of foreign diplomats and diplomatic missions in Iraq.”
US sanctions on 4 Iraqis
Meanwhile, the US imposed sanctions on two Iraqi militia leaders and two former Iraqi provincial governors it accused of human rights abuses and corruption, the US Treasury Department said on Thursday.
The sanctions target militia leaders Rayan Al-Kildani and Waad Qado, and former governors Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan and Ahmed Al-Jubouri, the Treasury said in a statement.
“We will continue to hold accountable persons associated with serious human rights abuse, including persecution of religious minorities, and corrupt officials who exploit their positions of public trust to line their pockets and hoard power at the expense of their citizens,” Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said.
The Treasury said many of the actions that prompted the sanctions occurred in “areas where persecuted religious communities are struggling to recover from the horrors inflicted on them” by Daesh, the militant group that controlled parts of Iraq for several years.
The Treasury said Kildani is the leader of the 50th Brigade militia and is shown cutting off the ear of a handcuffed detainee in a video circulating in Iraq last year.
It said Qado is the leader of the 30th Brigade militia which engaged in extortion, illegal arrests, and kidnappings.
Sultan and Jubouri were designated for being engaged in corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, and other misdeeds, the Treasury said.
Iraq in March issued a warrant for the arrest of Sultan, the former governor of Nineveh province, on corruption charges after at least 90 people were killed in a ferry accident in the provincial capital Mosul.
As a result of the designation, any property the four persons hold in the US would be blocked and US persons are barred from business dealings with them.