BAGHDAD — Gunmen killed a Turkish diplomat and an Iraqi man during lunchtime at a restaurant in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil on Wednesday, a rare outburst of violence in the capital of the country’s semiautonomous Kurdish region.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said three gunmen carried out the attack. He did not identify the diplomat, who worked at Turkey’s consulate in Irbil. Another Iraqi civilian was critically injured, he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
“Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is a terror attack,” Cavusoglu said in brief remarks to reporters in Ankara, the Turkish capital. But the gunmen could also have been targeting the Iraqi citizens, he added. “We don’t have clear information yet.”
Turkey has been waging a military campaign for several years in northern Iraq against the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, using airstrikes, artillery and special forces.
The PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state, has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. On Saturday, Turkey announced a mission seeking to destroy PKK hideouts in northern Iraq.
The shooting came just hours after the PKK announced the death of Sarhad Warto, a spokesman for the group, in a Turkish airstrike that killed four other people, according to a PKK statement quoted by Rudaw, a Kurdish media outlet based in northern Iraq.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that an “officer of the Consulate General of Irbil was martyred as a result of an atrocious armed attack while he was outside the Consulate General’s building.” The statement did not name the officer or mention the other victims of the attack.
The shooting occurred at Huqqabaz, a Turkish cafe in an upscale neighborhood of Irbil. Photographs published on local news websites showed a shattered window at the front of the restaurant and what appeared to be blood spatters on a car outside.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the Irbil attack in a Twitter message and wrote that Turkey was working with Iraqi and local authorities “to ensure that the perpetrators of the attack are found quickly.”
The U.S. Embassy in Iraq also condemned the shooting in a statement posted on Facebook that expressed the mission’s “solidarity in the defense and safety of foreign diplomats and diplomatic missions in Iraq.”
Fahim reported from Istanbul.