Turkey bombs northern Iraq

No one is hurt in the latest offensive against Kurdish separatists.

    The Turkish government says it has a right
    to pursue PKK fighters [EPA]

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    "I think it is pretty difficult to say troops shouldn't [invade] when the Turkish soldiers are being killed, and their villages attacked"

    Celtic, Karlstad, Sweden

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    Another Iraqi Kurd official said the air strike was "short", lasting for about 10 minutes at 12.30pm (0930 GMT). It hit the villages of Rikan, Shezee and Samjuhu in the region of al-Amadiyah near the border, he said.

    "The villages were deserted," he said.

    Ankara holds PKK fighters responsible for several attacks against Turkish troops.

    Tensions have escalated in recent months after several Turkish soldiers were killed by PKK fighters. Turkey says it killed between 150 and 175 PKK members in its air attack on December 16.

    Ragip Duran, a political analyst from Galatasaray University, told Al Jazeera that the decision to release casualty figures is nothing more than a "public relations exercise".

    He said: "Independent observers are saying that there should be some reservation regarding these figures because it is late - nine days after the first air strike.

    "There are so many figures and so many places [said to be the targets of the raids] but not enough precision. Both parties [the PKK and the Turkish army] are making their own PR operation."

    With domestic public opinion strongly in favour of action against the separatists, the Turkish parliament sanctioned cross-border raids into Iraq earlier in the year.

    Turkey says it has the right to pursue the group inside Iraqi territory.

    Iraqi reaction

    Tuesday's attack came despite leaders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, and the government in Baghdad, calling for an immediate halt to the raids.

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    Jalal Talabani, the president, said: "We are not denying that Turkey has a right to defend itself from extremists, but some of its actions are not serving any democratic purpose in Turkey or in Iraq.

    "This will not benefit the relations between the two countries."

    Since 1984, the PKK's fight against Turkey for Kurdish self-rule has claimed more than 37,000 lives.

    The group is labelled a "terrorist organisation" by Turkey, the US and the EU.

    Turkey, which has the second largest army in the Nato military alliance after the US with 515,000 troops, has moved about 100,000 soldiers up to its 380km border with Iraq.
     
    Istanbul blast
     
    Two people were slightly injured in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, when a device went off in a rubbish bin on Tuesday evening.
     
    Police said the device was a homemade percussion bomb. Such bombs are designed to cause panic rather than kill.
     
    No one has admitted planting the device.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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