Turkish diplomat, consulate employees among victims of Erbil shooting
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Turkish diplomat, consulate employees among victims of Erbil shooting

A Turkish diplomat and two Iraqi employees of the Turkish consulate in Erbil were shot dead while dining at a restaurant, local security officials and Turkey's foreign ministry confirmed.   The attack took place when a gunman opened fire on the Turkish diplomat and his company before fleeing in a car driven by an accomplice, Kurdish security officials and a witness told Reuters.   There was no immediate claim of responsibility as security forces began a search for the attackers.   Pledging retaliation, Ankara said it had already set in motion efforts to identify and locate the assailants.   "The necessary response will be given to those who committed this treacherous attack," Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.   The attack drew condemnation from Turkey, Iran and Kurdish authorities in Erbil.   Iran condemns terror attack   Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi condemned the attack in a statement, saying such attacks highlighted the need for the international community to come together in combating terrorism.   "Terrorism is a horrible phenomenon that has inflicted major damage on the countries of the region and the only way to combat it is if the world community combats terrorist groups by ending political, financial and ideological support to these groups and arming [them]," he said.   Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad al-Sahaf also condemned the attack, saying Baghdad was coordinating a joint investigation involving various government organizations to  find the assailants.   Some Iraqi sources suggested that the attack was a response by the terror group to Turkey's ongoing operation in northern Iraq against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which began in May.   The attack comes after Turkish forces killed two senior commanders of the PKK.    The PKK group has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. It has based its militants in the Qandil mountainous border region, north of Erbil.   Turkey and the ruling Kurdish party in Erbil, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), have in the past held the PKK responsible for other incidents relating Turkey's military operations in northern Iraq.   The KDP has said it was going to continue to cooperate closely with Ankara against the PKK.   "Nobody invited them (the PKK) here," Iraqi Kurdistan's Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said in an interview with Reuters earlier this month.   "We disapprove of their activities and ... of their presence here. We understand the concerns of the neighboring countries about security issues," he said, adding that Erbil would look to strengthen relations with Turkey.   Turkish forces have regularly carried out air raids against PKK targets in northern Iraq. The current operation involved dropping commandos on mountain ridges.   Turkey has called for Baghdad to take a more active role against the PKK, waging offensives in recent years.   The PKK is proscribed as a terrorist organization by Ankara and its Western allies.  

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