ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkish warplanes have bombed northern Iraq–killing at least 38 civilians and wounding a further 11–an Iraqi Kurdish party which controls much of the remote region said in a statement on Thursday.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) said the jets attacked an area inside Iraq close to the borders of Turkey and Iran–where Turkish Kurd guerrillas loyal to captured rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan have a number of bases.
“Regrettably a number of herdsmen and nomads came under attack and as a result 38 were killed–11 injured and four are missing,” said the KDP statement faxed to Reuters.
Turkish military officials said they knew nothing of the incident. “It is out of the question for us to bomb civilians,” an army official said.
“Air operations in northern Iraq target the PKK,” he said–referring to Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party.
The remote mountainous enclave of northern Iraq has been outside Baghdad’s control since the end of the 1991 Gulf War and is ruled by Massoud Barzani’s KDP and a rival Iraqi Kurdish group.
Ocalan’s PKK–fighting for Kurdish self-rule in southeast Turkey–have long used the region as a base to mount cross-border raids–provoking frequent incursions by Turkish troops and planes in operations against the rebels.
Barzani’s KDP “peshmerga” fighters have regularly cooperated with Turkish troops to fight the PKK.
“We as the KDP… express our disappointment at this action because this has resulted in innocent people being killed and we call for this incident to be thoroughly investigated and the families of the victims to be properly compensated,” the statement said.
The Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Politika–close to the PKK–said on Thursday 32 civilians had been killed in the attack.
The editor of an Iraqi Kurd satellite television channel said the wounded had been taken to hospital in the regional capital Arbil where they were undergoing treatment.
Iran’said last year Turkish jets had killed one Iranian soldier and wounded several others in a raid on the Iran-Iraq border region. Ankara said its warplanes had bombed PKK forces inside Iraq and refused to pay compensation.