ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish warplanes bombarded border areas of the Kurdistan Region's district of Amedi in Duhok province on Thursday, damaging infrastructure and severely wounding three civilians, said a local official.
Jamal Aradne, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Chamanki sub-district, told Kurdistan 24 that the attack targeted a vehicle belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that had infiltrated the village of Spendari and stopped in front of a local shop. As a result, he said, the bombardment destroyed the militants' car but also injured three local bystanders.
The group has been engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Ankara over Kurdish rights and self-rule that has resulted in the deaths of over 40,000 people on both sides.
"The PKK's existence in our village has caused us nothing but misfortune," he continued. "As they pass through our village or stop there, they turn the people of the village into targets and victims of airstrikes."
In the past year, Turkey has carried out military operations against PKK fighters based within the Kurdistan Region with continued regularity, with Turkish forces having crossed up to 20 kilometers past its borders in some areas to target the guerilla group.
Echoing a sentiment expressed by many local and regional officials, Aradne said, "We have asked both the PKK and Turkey countless times to stay out of the villages and move their fight elsewhere, but they do not listen."
The bombing comes the day after a deadly shooting at a restaurant that killed a Turkish consular official and two others in the regional capital of Erbil, an attack the KRG condemned as a “premeditated terrorist attack.”
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the shooting and the gunman is still at large, but many observers speculate the involvement of the PKK, which Turkey, the United States, and the European Union all designate it as a "terrorist" group.
One PKK official, however, has denied its fighters had anything to do with the killings.
“We have no information regarding the incident and only heard about it through the media,” read a statement by Diyar Deniz, media director of the PKK’s armed wing, the People’s Defense Forces (HPG).
On July 12, Turkey launched the second phase of its so-called Operation Claw, targeting PKK positions and fighters in harsh mountainous areas in northern parts of the Kurdistan Region.
Recent such clashes have resulted in the evacuation of more than a dozen villages in the district of Amedi, adding up to a total of at least 105 villages completely deserted so far, in fear of getting caught up in the fight.
Sarbast Akriye, Head of the Kani Masi sub-district told Kurdistan 24, "With the ongoing security threat on the lives of the villagers, more and more people are leaving on a daily basis."
"If this situation is to continue, we will face a serious shortage of population in the area."
Editing by John J. Catherine