ANKARA, (Reuters) – Turkish warplanes fired on a group of Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq on Wednesday as they tried to cross into Turkey, the army said on Thursday.
The army statement came a day after a military source said at least four Turkish military jets bombed Kurdish separatist targets inside northern Iraq.
“A group of armed PKK/KONGRA-GEL terror organisation members, who were trying to cross into Turkey from northern Iraq’s Hakurk region, were spotted and neutralised by fire from aircraft of the Air Forces,” the statement said. It gave no further details, but “neutralised” generally means killed.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group said Turkish planes bombed a remote part of northern Iraq but no one was hurt.
A PKK spokesman denied the Turkish army statement and said the Turkish bombing had caused no casualties among the rebels. “The Turkish news is false. There was a fierce battle between Turkish forces and the PKK in the area of Sirnak (in southeastern Turkey) yesterday. It lasted for hours,” Ahmed Danees, PKK spokesman in northern Iraq, said. “There were killed and wounded on the Turkish side,” he said.
The Turkish military staged an eight-day incursion in northern Iraq in February against the PKK, which uses northern Iraq as a base to launch attacks on targets inside Turkey.
Ankara blames the separatist group for the deaths of 40,000 since 1984, when the group took up arms to carve out an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.
The United States and the European Union, along with Turkey, consider the PKK a terrorist organisation.