Nine killed after suspected Turkish shelling of town in Iraqi Kurdistan

At least nine people have been killed and 23 injured after the bombing executed this Wednesday by alleged Turkish planes in the surroundings of the town of Zajo, in the Iraqi semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, local authorities have denounced.

The alleged Turkish bombing, which targeted several tourist sites in the town of Zajo, would have hit a group of about 200 tourists arriving from the capital, Baghdad, among whom there were also children, as reported by the Kurdish television channel Rudaw.

The mayor of Zajo, Muhsin Bashir, has accused Turkey of carrying out several attacks on the village of Paraj and claimed that suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were in the vicinity, which could have triggered the bombing.

Likewise, Iraqi Prime Minister Mostafa al-Kazemi denounced Turkey’s “brutal attack” as “an explicit and flagrant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” before stressing that Baghdad “reserves the right to respond,” he detailed on his Twitter account.

“Once again, the Turkish forces committed an explicit and flagrant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, and the
lives and safety of Iraqi citizens (…) Iraq reserves its full right to respond to these attacks and will take all necessary measures to protect its people,” al-Kazemi detailed.

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For its part, Turkey has rejected the Iraqi accusations, assuring that it is against all types of attacks targeting civilians, and has assured that it fights terrorism “in accordance with international law”.

“It is considered that these attacks targeting innocent civilians and have been organized by the terrorist organization that undermines the fair and resolute stance of our country (PKK) in the fight against terrorism,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It has also urged the country’s authorities not to make statements “under the influence of rhetoric and the treacherous terrorist organization and to cooperate to bring the real perpetrators of this tragic incident to light.”

The UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has “strongly condemned the deadly artillery bombardment” that occurred Wednesday in Zajo, and expressed its “deepest condolences” to the families of the victims.

“Civilians are once again suffering from the indiscriminate effects of explosive weapons. Under international law, attacks must not target civilians,” outlines a statement released by the organization.

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UNAMI also stressed that Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity “must be respected at all times,” and called for “a thorough investigation” to determine the circumstances surrounding the attack.

During her last briefing to the Security Council, UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert urged all parties to end human rights violations “without delay.”

“What are we seeing – shooting and missiles as the new normal for Iraq? This is a very risky way of advancing interests and further weakening the state of Iraq,” the UN special representative in the country asserted.

Turkey announced in mid-April the start of a new offensive against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, which was described by Baghdad as a “threat to national security”, given that the operations were not being coordinated.

The Turkish Army also recurrently conducts military operations against the PKK and its allies in northern Syria since the ceasefire between the government and the armed group was broken in July 2015.

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