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 Prosecutor seeks drone images from deadly Turkish raid on civilian Kurds

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Prosecutor seeks drone images from deadly Turkish raid on civilian Kurds  1.1.2012    

Locals gather in front of the bodies of Kurds who were killed in a Turkish warplane attack in the Ortasu village of Uludere, in the Sirnak province, Turkey Kurdistan on December 29, 2011. Turkish warplanes killed 23 Kurdish villagers. Photo: Getty
January 1, 2012

ANKARA, — Prosecutors have asked the Turkish military to provide images taken by drones during an air strike that killed 35 young Kurdish civilians on the Iraqi Kurdistan border, the Anatolia news agency said on Saturday.

Turkish fighter jets killed the 35 Kurds during an operation last Wednesday the government admitted was a "blunder" that mistakenly hit civilians instead of Kurdish separatist guerrillas.

Turkey's military command said it had ordered an attack on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants after a spy drone spotted a group moving toward its sensitive south-eastern border under cover of darkness.

A large-scale investigation into the incident is under way, said Anatolia, adding that the prosecutor's office in Sirnak province requested that the military send images taken by the unmanned aerial vehicles during the air raid.

The prosecutor's office will also hear eyewitnesses from the region as part of the investigation, it said.

Clashes between Kurdish rebels and the army have escalated in recent months.

The Turkish military launched an operation on militant bases inside northern Iraq in October after a PKK attack killed 24 Turkish soldiers in the border town of Cukurca, the army's biggest loss since 1993.

Hundreds of Kurds demonstrated Saturday in Diyarbakir, the main city of the majority Kurdish southeast, after police said two PKK members had been killed in a shootout.

In November Turkey bombed the Sulaimaniyah and Erbil provinces of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region, wounding a civilian, Kurdish officials said. Since August 17, 2011 Turkish jets repeatedly carried out air strikes against the Kurdish PKK separatist group's bases in Iraqi Kurdistan region, under justification of chasing elements of the anti-Ankara PKK, forcing large numbers of Kurdish citizens of those areas to desert their home villages, including an air raid that killed 7 Kurdish civilians in a village north of Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah city on August 21, 2011.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

Copyright © 2012, respective author or news agency, AFP | | Agencies


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