Gunmen storm office of Iraqi Kurdish media outlet
Dozens of gunmen stormed the offices of a media outlet owned by the co-leader of an Iraqi Kurdish political party on Tuesday night, in what appears to be a sharp escalation in tensions within his party.
"Nearly 50 armed men" in masks and military uniforms raided the office of iPLUS in the city of Sulaymaniyah, a statement from the outlet read, with staff trapped in the office for an hour and equipment broken or stolen.
The outlet is owned by Lahur Sheikh Jangi, who is officially co-leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the second-biggest party in Iraqi Kurdistan.
PUK members elected Jangi and Bafel Talabani, the nephew and son of late PUK leader and co-founder Jalal Talabani respectively, as co-leaders of the party in 2020.
Jalal Talabani died back in October 2017, but divisions within the party meant it took more than two and half years to decide on its new leaders.
Bafel Talabani looks to be taking over the party as sole leader, pushing Jangi out of his main roles.
He removed the heads of the PUK's counter-terrorism and intelligence forces – both of which were overseen by Jangi – and appointed new heads for both organisations.
Bafel Talabani visited new counter-terrorism chief Wahab Halabjay on Sunday. Video shows Talabani, himself in military fatigues, embracing Halabjay.
He was accompanied on his visit by his brother Qubad Talabani, the deputy prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The offices of other media outlets linked to Jangi were also attacked on Tuesday night, according to a local human rights monitor.