Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq said on Monday they had foiled a plan to attack foreign diplomats in their autonomous regional capital of Irbil, more than a year after the killing of a Turkish consular official there.
In a statement, the Kurdistan regional government's top security agency said the attack was planned by people linked to the PKK terrorist group.
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) security statement said attackers linked to the PKK had planned to kill diplomats in Irbil but did not say from which country.
"The group was observed and then intercepted by the security forces in an operation lasting four months," it added.
Soon after the KRG statement, PKK denied it was involved in any planned attacks.
A gunman shot a Turkish diplomat dead in an Irbil restaurant in July last year, just weeks after Turkey launched another incursion into Iraq against the PKK. KRG officials privately blamed that killing on the PKK, which they say seeks to carry out similar attacks in the Kurdistan region.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children.
Northern Iraq is split between the control of different Iraqi and Kurdish forces, Shiite militias and smaller armed groups.
Turkish forces conduct cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which they carry out attacks on Turkey. The operations intensified after July 2018 and became routine since the beginning of another extensive campaign, Operation Claw, which was launched on May 27 to entirely eliminate the presence of the terrorist organization in northern Iraq.
Turkey has long been stressing that it will not tolerate threats posed to its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorists. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps are not taken, it would not shy away from targeting the group. KRG also previously called the PKK's presence in Sinjar unacceptable and urged the militants to leave the area.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party dominates Irbil and shares with Turkey a common enemy in the form of PKK. The Irbil government relies on Turkish pipelines to export oil.
PKK is also the target of a security and reconstruction agreement between Irbil and Baghdad that aims to eject all PKK affiliates from the town of Sinjar on the Syrian border.