Turkish forces fired artillery shells into north Iraq, apparently in a bid to intimidate Kurdish rebels with whom Ankara is in peace talks, security sources and rebels told AFP on Thursday.
The shelling on Wednesday, which caused no casualties, came days after jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan made a ceasefire call in a move that raised hopes of an end to a three-decade conflict that has cost some 45,000 lives, most of them Kurdish.
The Turkish army has not launched any operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels since Ocalan’s March 21 ceasefire call, set out in a letter penned from his island prison cell.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), there was artillery fire at a border area,” a PKK official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Our members were not in the area at the time.”
The official said the artillery struck the Haftanin area of Dohuk, Iraq’s northernmost province and part of the autonomous Kurdistan region where the PKK maintains rear bases.
Turkish security sources said that there was “local shell fire” targeting rebel hideouts from Cukurca township, but added that it mostly aimed to deter PKK fighters from entering Turkey.
Ocalan’s move capped months of clandestine peace talks between the jailed rebel leader, whose movement is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies, and Turkey’s spy agency.