Iraqi Kurdistan authorities hold suspects from PKK-linked group

Cell is accused of planning terrorist attacks against government officials in northern Iraq

FILE - in this Tuesday, May 14, 2013 file photo, a group of armed Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) enter northern Iraq in the Heror area, northeast of Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. A Kurdish rebel group says they are withdrawing from Iraq's Sinjar following threats of attack from Turkey. The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, says in a statement Friday, March 23, 2018 the "Iraqi government's position and the fact that the Kurdish community had managed to organize itself" have removed security fears in the area. (AP Photo/Ceerwan Aziz, File)
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Security forces in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region have arrested members of a group they said were planning “terrorist” attacks against government officials and civilians.

The Kurdistan Region Security Council accused the group of affiliation with Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a dissident Kurdish group which is based in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The suspected terrorist cell of two was uncovered on January 6 in Dohuk, one of three provinces that make up the Kurdistan Region, said the statement.

Three explosive devices were seized, the statement said, while a taxi driver who transported them was arrested.

It identified the suspects as Hayman Youssif Khudhir and Ahmed Shamo Samir.

“During the investigation, the two acknowledged that they had orders from PKK intelligence officer Naji Haji Badal to keep an eye on military vehicles and political, religious and social figures in order to carry out terrorist attacks and bombings,” it said.

The suspects acknowledged planning attacks against four camps outside Dohuk that hosted Yazidis, a religious minority who fled their homeland of Sinjar when ISIS swept through much of Iraq in 2014.

No explanation was given as to why Yazidis might have been targeted by the group.

The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, initially seeking an independent Kurdish state before changing their demands and seeking an autonomous Kurdish region within Turkey. The conflict has killed about 40,000 people, many of them civilians.

It has training camps and bases in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and is designated a terrorist group by the US and EU.

Ankara has launched a series of military operations against PKK fighters in Iraq and Syria, causing casualties not only among the fighters but also civilians.

Iraqi Kurdistan has complicated relations with the PKK because its presence in the region impedes trade relations with neighbouring Turkey.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 8:16 AM