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Middle East
Iraqi civilians 'killed' in Turkey air strike
Warplanes kill seven civilians in strike against suspected Kurdish separatist targets in northern Iraq, officials say.
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2011 21:44
Over 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since Kurdish rebels took up arms for self-rule in 1984 [Reuters]

Seven Iraqis have been killed in a Turkish air strike, a part of Ankara's bombing campaign against Kurdish separatist fighters in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish zone, officials said.

A rocket from a Turkish plane hit a civilian lorry, killing all seven passengers on Sunday near Qalat Dizah, a town located northeast of the city of Sulaimaniya, Hasan Abdullah, the town mayor, said.

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

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

Turkey launched a bombing campaign on Wednesday targeting suspected rebel positions across the border in Iraq, after some 40 soldiers were killed since July in stepped-up attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.

The PKK, which the US and the European Union consider a terrorist organisation, is fighting for autonomy in the region.

Turkey's military has said the jets are targeting PKK sites only - including shelters, anti-aircraft gun positions and ammunition depots - showing "the necessary" care not to harm civilians.

The fighters have long used northern Iraq as a springboard for hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets. The latest offensive from Turkey began hours after eight soldiers and a government-paid village guard were killed in a PKK ambush near the border with Iraq.

Turkey has carried out a number of cross-border air raids and ground incursions over the years but has failed to stop infiltration of PKK fighters through the mountainous border.

The previous offensive was last summer, when warplanes launched a series of raids on suspected PKK positions and ground troops took part in a daylong incursion.

In Turkey on Sunday, police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse Kurdish protesters who tried to march to a main square in Istanbul to denounce the Turkish raids. In the capital, Ankara, demonstrators marched to protest the PKK.

Source:
Agencies
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