SULAIMANI (Kurdistan 24) – A group of unknown armed men early Tuesday morning opened fire on the Gorran (Change) Movement headquarters in the Kurdistan Region’s Sulaimani, killing a security guard, a party official has reported.
The shooting took place around 3:00 am, local time, according to a member of Gorran’s General Assembly, Khalil Sarkani.
Sarkani told Kurdistan 24 that Gorran’s TV channel, KNN, ran a story yesterday citing Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) sources claiming the party deliberately failed to invite to the presidential inauguration ceremony leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) who had a hand in helping Iraqi forces and Shia militias on Oct. 16, 2017, attack Kirkuk.
“This could be the main reason of the attack,” Sarkani suggested, accusing a group of members within the PUK of being behind the shooting.
The attack and military takeover of Kirkuk by Iraqi forces and Shia militias on Oct. 16, 2017, which drove the Kurdish Peshmerga forces out of the area, has been the main source of animosity between the KDP and the PUK as the Iraqi government subsequently ousted Kurdish Governor Najmaldin Karim.
Within the political sphere, most fingers are directed to a particular group of PUK security and military leaders who reportedly cooperated with Iraqi forces and Shia militias to facilitate the takeover. The PUK’s acting leader, Kosrat Rasul, affirmed the blame rested with that group in a statement following the attack.
“We hope such actions [the shooting] will stop. If we have problems, we should be using peaceful options such as dialogue,” Sarkani argued.
He added that the attack on his party’s headquarters wounded a guard who later succumbed to his injuries.
“The man leaves two children behind,” the Gorran official lamented.
According to Sarkani, three unknown black military vehicles were seen near the building around the time of the shooting.
Later, Gorran issued a statement, strongly condemning the attack.
The movement stated that the attack came after "a PUK official threatened Gorran officials and the headquarters in Sulaimani."
"This kind of irresponsible actions will destabilize the security of the region and Sulaimani," the statement reads.
Gorran mentioned that in addition to killing the headquarters’ guard, some of their members were briefly detained without cause.
The movement also called on the authorities of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice.
This is not the first time the movement’s headquarters has been attacked. In May 2018, a similar assault occurred, with no casualties reported. Back then, the party had also accused PUK security and military leaders of being behind the shooting.
Founded in 2009, Gorran was the second largest party in the Kurdistan Region before the 2018 elections, after the KDP. In the Sept. 30 parliamentary elections, their seats were halved to 12, bringing them down to the third place following the KDP and the PUK.
Editing by Nadia Riva