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'Turkish air strike kills 30 in southeast Turkey'
December 29, 2011 10:37
Ankara's warplanes mistake smugglers for PKK militants along the country's southeastern borer with Iraq.
Turkish Air Force F16 [file]

Turkish Air Force F16 311 (R). (photo credit:Umit Bektas / Reuters)

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey - Turkish warplanes killed 30 people in an air strike in southeastern Turkey near the Iraqi border overnight, apparently mistaking smugglers for Kurdish militants, a local official told Reuters on Thursday.

Turkish warplanes strike militant targets regularly in the region in their battle against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas, and have stepped up raids after a PKK attack in August.

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"We have 30 corpses, all of them are burned. The state knew that these people were smuggling in the region. This kind of incident is unacceptable. They were hit from the air," said Fehmi Yaman, mayor of Uludere in Sirnak province.

The Turkish government was not immediately available for comment.

"There were rumors that the PKK would cross through this region. Images were recorded of a crowd crossing last night, hence an operation was carried out," a security official said.

"We could not have known whether these people were (PKK) group members or smugglers," he said.

The PKK, regarded as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States, launches attacks on Turkish forces in southeastern Turkey from hideouts inside the remote Iraqi mountains.

Turkey and Iran have often skirmished with rebels in the region and Turkish leaders vowed revenge in October with air and ground strikes after the PKK killed 24 Turkish soldiers in raids on military outposts in southeastern Turkey.

It was one of the deadliest attacks since the PKK took up arms in 1984 in a conflict in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.
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