Five killed in suspected Turkish drone attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan
Five people were killed early on Saturday in a suspected Turkish drone attack in Iraq's Kurdistan region, Kurdish officials and relatives of the victims told The New Arab.
The strikes hit a civilian pick-up car near Chamchamal town in Sulaymaniyah governorate.
“Early today two suspected Turkish drones targeted a civilian pick up car in Tutaqal village in our area, killing five people, including two civilians and three suspected fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). We could not confirm that there were PKK fighters inside the car, because all the five persons were burnt up,” Hemin Bahjat, mayor of Aghjalar sub-district of Chamchamal town, told The New Arab in a phone call. “Locals previously had told our security forces of the existence of PKK fighters in the area, and we had addressed higher Kurdish authorities in this regard.”
Turkish drone attacks have led to hundreds of civilian casualties in the Iraqi Kurdistan region in recent years. Ankara says it is targeting PKK guerrillas who are using the region’s territories to attack the Turkish armed forces.
“It is not yet clear where the drones had flown as no formal side has made any official clarifications about the attack, and here we do not have such equipment to know or identify the drones. According to initial reports there are casualties from today’s drone attack in Aghjalar sub-district,” Ramak Ramazan, mayor of Chamchamal town told The New Arab.
But a relative of the two civilian victims said they were Turkish drones.
“Early today the Turkish drones were initially targeting some PKK fighters who were based in a rural jungle from Tutaqal village, then the drones were observing all cars in the area,” Adil Majeed, relative of the victims, told The New Arab. “It seems some of the PKK fighters were wounded and they sought help from civilian cars in a nearby road, consequently the drones attacked the pick-up car, and killed two of my cousins who were from working as farmers.”
The two civilians were survivors of the 1988 Anfal genocide, Majeed, also an Anfal survivor, added.
Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon suspected Turkish drones also targeted a vehicle in Makhmour refugee camp. The camp hosts more than 12,000 Kurdish refugees who fled the atrocities of the Turkish state; mainly in the 1990s. The camp is being sponsored by the United Nations.
The Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have yet to announce their comment on the latest Turkish strikes.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency for greater autonomous rights against the Turkish state since 1984, with tens of thousands estimated to have been killed so far. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.