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Turkish diplomat among two killed in shooting in Iraq's Erbil

Deputy consul general among those killed at a restaurant in northern Kurdish city
A restaurant where Turkish diplomats were killed is seen in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil on 17 July (Reuters)

At least two people, including a Turkish diplomat, have been killed in a shooting at a restaurant in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil on Wednesday.

The shooting reportedly took place at the HuQQabaz restaurant on the Airport Road.

The deputy consul general of Turkey and one other diplomatic staff member were killed in the attack. Security sources initially said three had been killed, however, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) security forces - the Asayish - said only two had been killed.

It is unknown who carried out the attack.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack in a statement on Twitter.

“I condemn the nefarious attack on our consulate officials in Erbil," he said.

"Our efforts are ongoing with Iraqi and local authorities for the perpetrators of the attack to be found.”

The US State Department also released a statement, condemning the attack "in the strongest possible terms".

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a speedy recovery of any wounded," the department said in a statement, before reaffirming its commitment to support the government and people of Turkey and Iraq.

KRG security services were searching for attackers and sealed off the area around the restaurant.

A witness told Reuters that one attacker entered the restaurant and started shooting before he fled in a car that was waiting for him outside.

Erbil, under the authority of the KRG, has long been regarded as a relatively violence-free city in an otherwise turbulent Iraq.

In a statement, the Asayish said it had launched an investigation into the attack.

"We condemn in the strongest terms the shooting in a restaurant in Erbil today, which led to the deaths of a Turkish diplomat and a civilian, and injured one other," it read. "The government has launched a full investigation and contacted senior Turkish diplomats to offer condolences and provide assistance."

"We assure our citizens and foreign diplomats in particular that all necessary precautions will be taken to ensure the safety and security of the Kurdistan Region and its peoples."

Turkey and the KRG have generally enjoyed good relations since the autonomous province was officially created in 2005.

However, Turkey has also regularly launched military operations into northern Iraq in recent yeaers to target the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who are based in Iraq's Qandil mountains.

In the past year, Turkey has launched air strikes against PKK targets in the north of the KRG with increasingly regularity, leading locals to complain about civilian deaths and injuries.

On Wednesday, the PKK announced the death of Sarhad Varto, a senior member of the group - along with four other fighters who had been killed in March - as a result of Turkish air strikes.

Earlier this month, the PKK also announced that air strikes had killed another senior leader, Diyar Gharib Mohammed, along with two other fighters.