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Iraqi-Kurd lawmakers demand Turkish raid apology

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 26 Aug 2011 15:27 GMT
Author: Reuters
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ARBIL, Iraq, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Lawmakers in Iraqi Kurdistan on Friday demanded neighbouring Turkey apologize for a week of air strikes across their border and called for a closure of Turkish military bases inside Iraqi territory.

Tensions have flared between Turkey and Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region after local officials reported a Turkish air strike killed seven civilians on Sunday, triggering protests in the capital Arbil and other towns.

Turkey launched its first strikes in more than a year on suspected Kurdish PKK rebel bases in Iraq after more than 40 members of its security forces were killed in Turkey over the last month in PKK assaults.

There has been no official comment from Turkey on the civilian deaths. But Iraq's central government has summoned the Turkish ambassador to demand an end to air strikes and the regional Kurdish government condemned the deaths.

"We demand an end to the presence of Turkish military bases and their intelligence agencies in Kurdistan's territory," the Iraqi Kurdish parliament said in a statement. "We demand the Turkish government make a formal apology to the people and the Kurdistan government."

Iraq's foreign ministry says Turkey still has around 1,300 military in Iraqi territory at small observation posts set up in the 1990s with the permission of Baghdad.

Turkey and Iran often shell inside Iraqi territory to hit bases run by the PKK, or its Iranian offshoot the PJAK. The PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, has fought for Kurdish self-rule for more than 27 years in a conflict that has killed 40,000 people.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Semi-autonomous since 1991, Iraqi Kurdistan is often called the "other" Iraq because it is a relative safe haven that does not suffer the almost daily bombings, attacks and assassinations the rest of the country still faces. (Reporting by Shamal Aqrawi; Writing by Patrick Markey in Baghdad; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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