SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (AFP) – The Iranian military on Thursday subjected three Iraqi border villages to an early-morning barrage of shelling, causing no injuries or damage but scaring residents, an Iraqi official said.
The shells were apparently aimed at bases of militant Kurdish rebel group Pejak, said the mayor of Zarawah, a frontier town in northeastern Iraq.
Pejak (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) is accused by Tehran of launching deadly attacks on security forces in northwestern Iran.
“At 6.00 am today, Iranian troops fired artillery shells at border villages inside Iraq,” the mayor, Azad Wassu, told AFP by telephone.
“They used long range artillery for 30 minutes. Shells fell on three border villages. There were no casualties nor damage but residents were terrified,” added Wassu, under whose jurisdiction the villages fall.
Zarawah is near the major town of Qalat Dizhan, about 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of the city of Sulaimaniyah in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
Iran in September confirmed for the first time it had fired artillery shells on camps of Kurdish militants inside northern Iraq, saying the local authorities had not listened to its warnings.
The shelling, in August, sent hundreds of Iraqi Kurds fleeing remote mountain villages near Iraq’s eastern frontier.
Pejak is linked to Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Last week, Iraq and Turkey pledged to take measures against PKK rebels in northern Iraq during talks to soothe tensions following a Turkish cross-border offensive against the militants.
Turkey charges that more than 2,000 PKK militants use northern Iraq as a base for their separatist campaign against Ankara and accuses Iraqi Kurds of tolerating the rebels.