Turkish military shells Northern Iraq: Kurdish officials

A033411011.jpgARBIL, Iraq – Turkish artillery shelled northern Iraq on Friday morning, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties or material damage, a Kurdish government official said.

Jabbar Yawar, spokesman for the Peshmerga security forces of northern Iraq, said Turkish forces had shelled two areas in Dahuk province for two hours. Earlier, Iraqi Kurdish television said the Turkish military had bombed northern Iraq.

A senior Iraqi border guards officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were no casualties in the shelling, which took place between 7 a.m. (11 p.m. EST on Thursday) and 9 a.m. (1 a.m. EST on Friday).

It was the first reported cross-border action since a bomb attack in the Turkish town of Diyarbakir on January 3, which killed six people. Turkish authorities blamed that attack on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas.

Turkish warplanes repeatedly struck PKK targets in the mountainous north of Iraq in December and troops also made small-scale cross-border raids. Turkey has also massed up to 100,000 troops on the border with Iraq.

Ankara blames the PKK, which is fighting for a separate Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey, for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since it began an armed struggle in 1984.

Turkey says some 3,000 PKK members are based in the mountains of northern Iraq.

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