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Minister: Turkey to compensate families of air strike victims

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:38 AM EST, Tue January 3, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The compensation will come within days, the deputy prime minister says
  • Erdogan says the deaths, many of youths under 20, were "a sad outcome"
  • The Turkish military airstrike killed 35 people who were smuggling cigarettes
  • A Kurdish separatist group member calls for a "settling of accounts" over the deaths

Istanbul (CNN) -- Turkey says it will compensate the families of 35 civilians killed last week in a military airstrike in a Kurdish area on the border with Iraq.

"This will be realized immediately, within several days," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday.

"We extend our condolences again," Arinc said. "Of course, there are big things our government will do for the families, for those who survived. One of these is, as also defined by law, is paying compensation."

On Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he regreted the deaths, calling the incident "a sad outcome."

Pledging a full investigation, Erdogan said those killed late Wednesday were smuggling cigarettes and fuel, with almost half of them below the age of 20.

Erdogan said Turkey's military had been monitoring the area because it was in constant use by terrorist groups and that security forces had become suspicious because of the size of the group and number of donkeys used.

His words came a day after a senior member of a Kurdish separatist group urged Kurds to rise up against Turkish authorities over what he called a massacre.

Bahoz Erdal, a member of the command council of the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, issued the call for action on the group's official website.

"We urge all the people of Kurdistan, especially the people of Hakkari (province) and Sirnak, to react to this massacre and seek a settling of accounts through uprisings from the perpetrators of this massacre," Erdal said in a statement.

Some observers have sounded the alarm in recent months about escalating tension between Turkey and its Kurdish minority, warning it may reignite a conflict that has simmered since 1984 and claimed more than 30,000 lives.

Turkey has been going on the offensive against Kurdish separatists based across its border in northern Iraq with bombings and incursions.

CNN's Yesim Comert contributed to this report.

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