|Turkish air strikes killed 35 Kurdish smugglers, most of them less than 20 years old, near the Iraqi border [EPA]
Turkey will pay reparations to the families of Kurdish villagers killed in air strikes near the Iraqi border, but will not apologise officially, Bulent Arinc, the deputy prime minister, has said.
"The reparations will be paid in a couple of days," Arinc said in televised remarks on Monday after a cabinet meeting. However, the government would not "officially" apologise for the killings, Arinc said.
"It would be a very negative expectation (that we) apologise officially."
Arinc said the killings had not been intentional, but a probe of possible negligence was underway.
"It is absolutely out of question that the incident was intentional. However, although it was not intentional, examinations are ongoing about any possible negligence," he said.
On Wednesday night, Turkish air strikes killed 35 Kurdish smugglers, most of them less than 20 years old, near the Iraqi border.
Turkey's military command said it carried out the air strike after a spy drone spotted a group moving toward its sensitive southeastern border under cover of darkness in an area known to be used by fighters.
The main pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said the planes had bombed villagers from Kurdish majority southeastern Turkey who were smuggling sugar and fuel across the border on mules and donkeys.
"The dead citizens are civilians but we have to know that the region is where (the army) hold cross border operations. The region is a place where terrorist actions and terrorist groupings are intense," Arinc said.
He added that the army had received reports that a group of almost 50 people were walking with mules who could be carrying weapons.
Arinc said the air strikes were carried out after the group did not stop despite soldiers firing flares and artillery.