The shooter of Nagihan Akarsel, a Kurdish feminist academic and founding member of the Sulaymaniyah-based Jineolojî Academy, was identified as Ankara-born İsmail Peker on 25 December, reported Mezopotamya News Agency.
Security forces in Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) arrested several suspects on 7 October during the investigation into the killing of Akarsel, who was shot dead on 6 October. However, they did not make the identity of the suspected assailants public.
One week later, on 12 October, Voice of America (VOA) shared a video of a man who was said to be the Turkish assassin who killed Akarsel, then deleted the video shortly after it was uploaded.
Sources in Sulaymaniyah told Medya News of their own suspicions that the pressure came from officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Turkish embassy.
The same day, statements appeared by Ali Rıza Güney, Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, who said that Turkish forces were behind the assassinations of activists in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Member Zübeyir Aydar spoke to Stêrk TV on 25 December regarding the assassination and made public the identity of the hitman’s name as İsmail Peker, who was born in Turkey’s capital Ankara.
“This person [İsmail Peker] is already a criminal, he has already confessed himself. We have the information that he confessed,” said Aydar. “In his statement, the suspect says, ‘I came for this [to kill Akarsel], they [Turkey] gave me money’. In other words, they organised a plan and sent him there.”
According to Aydar, Peker confessed that he followed Akarsel to the front of her house in Sulaymaniyah, killed her and planned to flee to Erbil (Hewlêr).
Several activists and scholars have been killed in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since 2021, where the government has been increasing its relations with Turkey. Three academics have been killed in Sulaymaniyah since 2021, allegedly by the Turkish intelligence service MİT.