Baghdad to summon Turkey envoy over death of Kurdish protester

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq yesterday said it would summon the Turkish ambassador over the death of a Kurdish protester after Turkish troops opened fire on demonstrators in the country’s northwest.

Last Saturday night, Kurdish protesters stormed a Turkish army position in the Shiladzeh region of northwestern Iraq to protest the deaths of four civilians they said were killed last week in Turkish bombardment.

Witnesses said Turkish troops opened fire on the demonstrators, causing casualties and damage.

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry yesterday denounced the incident, saying one person was killed and several others wounded when Turkish forces “opened fire on citizens in the Shiladzeh area”.

“The Foreign Ministry will summon the Turkish ambassador to hand a protest note about the incident and demand that it not be repeated,” it added.

A member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) carries an automatic rifle on a road in the Qandil Mountains, the PKK headquarters in northern Iraq. – AFP

Turkish forces are deployed in Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdish region and often carry out raids and air strikes against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), seen as a “terrorist” group by Ankara.

Last Saturday, the Kurdish regional government said it was “saddened” by the casualties and material damage at Shiladzeh but only referred to an “incident” without mentioning Turkey or the protest.

Footage distributed by activists appeared to show protesters setting Turkish military vehicles on fire.

Turkey’s Defence Ministry said one of its bases was attacked after “provocation by a PKK terror group,” resulting in some damage to vehicles and other equipment.

The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, but also operates bases in the Qandil mountain area of Iraq’s Kurdish region.

In December last year, Baghdad summoned the Turkish ambassador to protest Ankara’s “repeated” air strikes as a “violation of its sovereignty”.

Turkey has pressed Iraq to play a bigger role in fighting the PKK, and last month announced deeper bilateral cooperation on the matter.