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Iraq Kurds arrest two suspects in killing of Turkish vice consul

By AFP - Jul 21,2019 - Last updated at Jul 21,2019

Iraqi Kurdish security stand guard outside the restaurant where two people were shot dead in Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, on Wednesday (AFP photo)

ERBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurdish authorities announced Saturday they had arrested two suspects involved in the murder of three people, including a Turkish diplomat, in the regional capital Erbil this week.

The autonomous region's security council first said its counterterrorism unit had arrested "the main perpetrator" Mazloum Dag, a 27-year-old from Turkey's Diyarbakir region. 

The council had put out a wanted notice for Dag a day earlier in connection to Wednesday's killing of Turkish Vice Consul Osman Kose and two Iraqi nationals.

It later announced it had also arrested Mohammad Biskesiz, identifying him as "one of the accomplices of Mazloum Dag". 

It did not specify Biskesiz's nationality or whether he was apprehended with Dag or separately. 

Turkey's Anadolu state news agency said Dag is the brother of Dersim Dag, a member of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party, the People's Democratic Party (HDP).

The HDP, the country's second largest opposition group, is regularly accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of links to Turkey's outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The HDP "strongly" condemned the Erbil attack, calling it an "absolutely unacceptable provocation attempt".

It also slammed the accusation that one of its deputies was "designated as a target because of his brother", without mentioning any names. 

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Ankara on Thursday launched a “comprehensive air operation” against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Qandil mountain area.

Since May, Turkey has been conducting a ground offensive and bombing campaign against Qandil to root out the PKK, considered a “terror organisation” by Ankara for its three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state. 

Other air strikes Thursday night targeted “PKK bases and members” in the Makhmur area south of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, wounding two in a displacement camp, local sources told AFP. 

The attack on Wednesday saw at least one gunman with two pistols fire on a group of diplomats in a restaurant in Erbil.

Kose and one Iraqi died Wednesday, while the second Iraqi succumbed to his wounds overnight.

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