A teenage boy has been killed in a bout of violence involving Turkish troops and Kurdish protesters in northern Iraq.
Reports late on Saturday said Turkish soldiers stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan region opened fire at people who were protesting peacefully in front of the Turkish military camp in the town of Shaladze while demanding an end to Turkey’s airstrikes in the region.
The reports said 10 people were also wounded in the violence which also saw the protesters set military vehicles and other properties in the camp on fire. Other reports said the shooting initiated by the Turkish troop, who left the scene after targeting the protesters, had caused the explosions.
Most of those wounded in the incident were Kurds mostly in their 20s, said the reports which also identified the boy killed in the violence as Hassan Rekan Hussein, a 13-year-old from Shaladze. The protesters were angry at repeated Turkish air strikes in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Ankara says the air campaign is necessary to hunt militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group it blames for decades of insurgency in its own territory.
Turkey's Defense Ministry said troops in Shaladze defended the military camp against an attack by militants which it said had been “provoked” by the PKK. The ministry confirmed damage to its military vehicles and equipment.
The regional government in Erbil also blamed the incident on “saboteurs” who instigated the attack on the Turkish military camp.
There was no comment from the central government in Baghdad but PKK’s political wing said that the group had no offices in Shaladze, adding that Turkey was directly responsible for the deadly violence in the town.
For the past several years, Turkey has been engaged in a sweeping military operation against the PKK in its southern provinces while it has also dispatched troops to neighboring Syria and Iraq to allegedly fight the so-called PKK extensions.
The cross-border operations and air strikes in Iraq and Syria have caused concerns in the two Arab countries as authorities believe the attacks have caused casualties among the civilians and violated their sovereignty.