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Kurdish PKK rebels deny reports that four leaders killed in
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Kurdish PKK rebels deny reports that four leaders
killed in Iraqi Kurdistan
Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan region (Iraq), -- The
separatist Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) on Saturday
denied Turkish reports that four of its leaders had
been killed in a suicide attack in a camp in
Kurdistan (northern Iraq).
According to the reports,
four rebels were killed
in what newspapers said appeared to have been a
settling of scores at a rear base of the PKK in the
Qandil mountains, close to Iraq's border with Iran
A member of the PKK was said to have set off a belt
packed with explosives during a meeting of PKK
cadres, killing four of them and himself.
But a PKK spokesman denied there had been any
attack, and accused the Turkish media of regularly
publishing false reports about his movement, which
is regarded as a terrorist group by much of the
"The news that circulated on a number of media
outlets in Turkey had no factual basis. There was no
explosion and no one was wounded," Abdelrahman
Chadarchi told AFP.
The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey's
mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984 in a conflict
that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
Rebels have stepped up their attacks this year,
while Ankara has massed troops on the border with
Iraq, fuelling speculation it will launch a
Ankara says it has grown weary of rebels enjoying a
safe haven in northern Iraq, where they obtain
weapons and explosives to launch attacks against
Turkish targets across the border.
It has also accused the northern Iraqi Kurds of
turning a blind eye to PKK presence on their
territory and even supporting them.
Washington is opposed to any Turkish military
action, fearing this could destabilise the
relatively peaceful region and further strain tense
relations between Ankara and the Iraqi Kurds,
staunch US allies.
The Turkish dailies Hurriyet and Sabah said Riza
Altun, one of the founders of the PKK and its chief
financial operator, was one of those present at the
time of the alleged explosion and said his fate was
Altun was placed under investigation in France in
February for suspected terrorist activities and
barred from leaving the Paris region.
He managed nevertheless to slip out the country to
Austria where authorities allowed him to go on to
northern Iraq despite an international warrant being
out for his arrest.
Last week Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul
lashed out at Austria for failing to extradite Altun,
describing it as "a very big mistake" and saying it
"erodes the foundations of the international
struggle against terrorism."
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