Seven Iraqis killed in Turkish airstrike: mayor

ARBIL, Iraq Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:50pm EDT

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ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Seven Iraqis were killed in a Turkish air strike in Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish zone on Sunday, a local mayor and witnesses said, the first civilian casualties reported during Ankara's bombing campaign against Kurdish rebels.

Kurdish politicians condemned the raids, which Ankara launched on Wednesday against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels after increased attacks in southeastern Turkey, saying cross-border strikes were contrary to international norms.

Turkey has not confirmed Sunday's strike, which would be the first daylight attack.

Hassan Abdulla, mayor of the town of Qalat Dizah, located northeast of the city of Sulaimaniya, told Reuters the air strike hit a car carrying civilians.

"Today there was a rocket from a Turkish plane that hit a civilian vehicle, a pickup, carrying seven civilians. The seven were killed," Abdulla said.

"The rocket has badly damaged the car ... We could not recognize the bodies, their ages, their identities or even their sex."

An eyewitness at a mosque near Qalat Dizah said the bodies had been brought there for final religious rites before being buried. The witness said the bodies included two children, two women and three men.

A Reuters witness said he saw six Turkish warplanes take off from a base in southeastern Turkey on Sunday morning but it was not immediately clear where the planes were headed.

ESCALATION

The Turkish air strikes are the first against rebels in the mountains of northern Iraq in more than a year and mark a sudden escalation of the 27-year-old conflict after the collapse of efforts to negotiate a settlement.

"Turkish forces act of shelling the border areas is contrary to all international norms and humanitarian concepts," Fouad Masoum, head of the Kurdistan bloc in parliament, told Reuters.

"Turkey is not able to target armed groups that attack their troops but takes out its anger on innocent people."

PKK rebels have killed some 40 Turkish security personnel in just over a month. Turkey's military said after the initial raids that the operation would continue until the PKK became ineffective.

While Turkey has tended to carry out more night raids in the past, day raids are not unheard of.

The Turkish General Staff has issued statements on its website confirming three consecutive nights of air strikes on northern Iraq starting on Wednesday night.

The last statement appeared on Saturday morning. There did not appear to have been any air strikes on Saturday night.

The strikes have been condemned by northern Iraq's regional government and Baghdad although they have drawn little global attention, which remains focused on unrest in Libya and Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the PKK took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in 1984.

The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

(Additional reporting by Muhanad Mohammed in Baghdad, Seyhmus Cakan in Diyarbakir and Jonathan Burch in Ankara; Writing by Serena Chaudhry)

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Comments (6)
CommentPlus wrote:
The Kurds in Southern Kurdistan must realize that that they are in war with the terrorist state(Turkey) as well. It is not just the Kurds in the Northern Kurdistan.

Aug 21, 2011 12:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
CommentPlus wrote:
If Kurds were a state, this would not have happened. This a solid proof for the Kurds’ need to have their own state. Being at the mercy of your enemy..how safe is that..first they were attacks by Saddam Hussein, the war criminal. Now attacks by the terrorist war criminals of Turkey and Iran….shame on Kurdish leaders in Southern Kurdistan for their silence and cowardliness..Kurdish nation is one nation that is why the terrorists in Ankara find relief in killing Kurdish civilians no matter where they are.

Aug 21, 2011 5:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Alison19 wrote:
Civilians in the mountains, what is he doing? Do not comfortable in the Kandil region. Which show the idea is the product of terrorism as a civilian out of the mountains? PKK’s game looks like. Provoke the Turkish Republic against the Kurdish people want to use.

Aug 21, 2011 7:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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