A Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman said the shelling took place over three hours late on Wednesday and early Thursday.
 

Later on Saturday, three Turkish soldiers were killed and four others seriously wounded in an explosion in a Kurdish area of southeastern Turkey, Turkish security sources said.

 

The bomb was set off by remote control by Kurdish separatists as a military convoy passed by in Sirnak province, on the mountainous border with Iraq, the sources said.

 

The dead included two Turkish army officers, they said.


Plea for talks
 
Earlier, Iraq's foreign ministry called for talks between the two governments.

Its statement said: "Such an action could affect the confidence between both countries and affect the friendly atmosphere between both governments."
 
Turkey had been moving tanks and troops to
its border with Iraq over the past week [AFP]
The ministry also reiterated the government's opposition to the presence on its territory of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, also known as PKK, and said it considers the rebel group to be illegal.

 

"Iraq would like to take this opportunity to declare its resolve to co-operate with Turkish authorities to allay Turkey's legitimate fears through a constructive dialogue and positive co-operation," said the statement.

 

Turkey has been building up its forces along the border with Iraq, and its leaders are debating whether to stage a major incursion to pursue PKK rebels who cross over from bases in Iraq to attack Turkish targets.


Turkey protests

 

Also on Saturday, thousands of people took to the streets of the country's mainly Kurdish southeast in a state-sponsored demonstration against separatist violence.

The protesters, mainly state-paid village guards, civil servants and schoolchildren, waved Turkish flags and chanted anti-guerrilla slogans in Sirnak, a remote hillside town 50km from the Iraq border.

 

Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's southeast, saw a similar anti-PKK demonstration on Saturday.

 

The rallies came a day after the military general staff in Ankara urged Turks to show a "mass resistance reflex" to PKK attacks.