'Seven Iraqis killed in Turkish air strike'

Qalat Dizah mayor says Turks hit pickup with seven people; Ankara has launched air strikes following PKK guerrilla attacks in Turkey.

Iraqi bridge destroyed in Turkish airstrike_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Iraqi bridge destroyed in Turkish airstrike_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
ARBIL, Iraq - Seven Iraqis were killed in an air strike by a Turkish warplane in Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish zone on Sunday, the first civilian casualties since the strikes began, a local mayor and eyewitnesses said.
The strike hit a car in which the civilians were traveling, Hassan Abdulla, mayor of the town of Qalat Dizah, located northeast of the city of Sulaimaniya, told Reuters.
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"Today there was a rocket from a Turkish plane that hit a civilian vehicle, a pickup, carrying seven civilians. The seven were killed," Abdulla said.
"The rocket has badly damaged the car... We could not recognize the bodies, their ages, their identities or even their sex."
A Reuters witness said he saw six Turkish warplanes take off from a base in southeastern Turkey on Sunday morning but it was not immediately clear where the planes were headed.
Turkish warplanes have been targeting Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels from Wednesday following increased attacks by the guerrilla forces in southeastern Turkey.
The Turkish air strikes are the first against rebels in the mountains of northern Iraq in more than a year and mark a sudden escalation of the 27-year-old conflict after the collapse of efforts to negotiate a settlement.
The Turkish General Staff has issued statements on its website confirming three consecutive nights of air strikes on northern Iraq starting on Wednesday night.
The last statement appeared on Saturday morning. There did not appear to have been any air strikes on Saturday night.