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Turkish strike against Kurdish targets kills 7, local official says

By the CNN Wire Staff
Turkish plainclothes police hold a pro-Kurdish protester during a demonstration in Istanbul on Sunday.
Turkish plainclothes police hold a pro-Kurdish protester during a demonstration in Istanbul on Sunday.
  • Turkish airstike kills parents and their five children in Kurdish village, mayor says
  • Turkish military said it pounded more than 100 targets in northern Iraq
  • Tensions have been escalating between the Turkish government and the Kurdish minority
  • Turkey
  • Kurdish Politics
  • Iraq

(CNN) -- A Turkish airstrike killed seven family members Sunday morning in a Kurdish village in northern Iraq, a local official said.

Qalat Diza mayor Hassan Abdullah said the strike hit two parents and their five children as they rode in a truck.

The village, Kortek, is located in Qalat Diza -- about 180 kilometers northeast of Sulaimaniya along the Turkey-Iraq border.

The deaths are the latest casualties reported as Turkish warplanes continue to carry out airstrikes against suspected Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq has expressed concern about the Turkish cross-border raids.

Turkish military officials could not be reached for comment on the incident.

On Friday, the Turkish military said warplanes and artillery pounded more than 100 targets in rugged mountains of northern Iraq where fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have long been active. The Turkish armed forces periodically target what Ankara calls PKK "safe havens" and "attack bases" in the region.

Dozens of Turkish soldiers have been killed over the last month, in a clear escalation of the conflict that has raged intermittently between Kurdish separatists and the Turkish state since 1984. More than 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict, many of them ethnic Kurds. The Kurds are Turkey's largest ethnic minority.

In a phone call to CNN on Sunday from Northern Iraq, a PKK spokesman placed the blame for the latest round of hostilities squarely on the Turkish government and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Erdogan has decided for an all-out war," said Roj Welat. "We will use our right to defend ourselves and our people. ... There will be new things probably, new developments will occur, but in what way I cannot say. But all I can say is Kurds will defend themselves. And we are calling on all the European countries, especially the United States, not to support state terror."

The U.S. government, as well as many European governments, officially labels the PKK as a terrorist organization.

In Istanbul on Sunday, riot police deployed in force in the center of Turkey's largest city to break up small demonstrations involving Kurdish protesters and Turkish ultranationalists.

In the rundown neighborhood of Tarlabasi where many ethnic Kurds live, pepper spray and tear gas wafted through the air and paving stones and bricks littered streets after Kurdish youths briefly clashed with security forces.

Meanwhile on another side of town, riot police sprinted to block a group of Turkish ultra-nationalist supporters from entering a main shopping district.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Baghdad and Ivan Watson in Istanbul contributed to this report.