Iraqi Kurds accuse Turkey of shelling

Turkey has been accused of shelling villages inside in Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan.

    The PKK wants an independent Kurdish 'homeland'

    Ali Auni, an official from the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party, said a 50-year-old shepherd was wounded in an attack in northern Iraq on Wednesday.

    "Yesterday morning at 11 am Turkish forces shelled the village of Zawita and some other Kurdish villages," he told Reuters, referring to an area near the border.

    Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment, but last month a Turkish government official last month dismissed a similar allegation as "total fabrication".

    Ankara habitually launches a spring offensive against fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the southeast of Turkey near the border with Iraq.

    Military escalation

    Iraqi security forces have recently been trying to stop PKK fighters based in mountainous and mainly Kurdish northern Iraq from crossing over the border into Turkey.

    The Turkish government has asked US and Iraqi forces to help pressure PKK units based inside Iraq.

    After a recent increase in PKK attacks Turkey has sent 40,000 extra troops to reinforce the 220,000 already in its Kurdish areas, representing the biggest military build-up in years.

    The PKK is striving to create an independent Kurdish state incorporating southeastern Turkey and accuses Ankara and Iran of mounting operations against the group and its Iranian wing, PJAK.

    In early May, villagers in Iraq's Kurdistan accused neighbouring Iran of hitting targets inside Iraq, which Tehran denied.

    Turkey and Iran are wary of the autonomy that Iraqi Kurds have established since the war in Iraq in 2003 and are concerned that it might provoke more unrest among their own large Kurdish populations.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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