Iraqi President Calls on Kurdish Rebels to Lay Down Arms
By VOA News
21 October 2007
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has appealed to Kurdish rebels to lay down their weapons as clashes between rebels and Turkish troops continue.
Mr. Talabani, a Kurd, Sunday called for rebels to adopt peaceful methods or leave Iraqi Kurdistan.
During a joint press conference with the president, the leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, said his people will defend themselves if attacked by foreign forces.
The Turkish military says its troops have killed 32 Kurdish rebels in fighting Sunday.
The army says the violence erupted when Kurdish rebels attacked an army unit Sunday morning, near the town of Yuksekova in Hakkari province, near the Iraqi border. It says Turkish forces then launched a counteroffensive.
Turkey's defense minister, Vecdi Gonul, today said the rebel attack killed at least 12 Turkish soldiers, wounded 16 and left 10 missing.
President Bush has condemned the rebel attack by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Sean McCormack says the United States will continue to work with Turkey and Iraq against the PKK, which the United States considers a terrorist organization.
Kurdish rebels dispute the government's casualty figures, claiming more soldiers and fewer rebels died. The PKK says rebels captured several soldiers. Defense Minister Gonul says no Turkish soldiers were taken hostage.
Also, a bomb blast wounded at least 17 people on a minibus near the area where the Turkish soldiers were killed in southeastern Turkey.
Earlier, Iraqi officials reported shelling from Turkish forces towards villages in northern Iraq. No casualties were reported.
Turks staged protests in the capital and several other cities over today's attacks.
Turkey's government won parliamentary approval Wednesday for military raids into northern Iraq to hunt for the rebels, who Ankara blames other recently deadly attacks against soldiers. In Washington, local Kurds demonstrated against a threatened incursion by Turkey into northern Iraq
Turkey's prime minister said the government would hold emergency talks Sunday to consider its reaction to the latest rebel attacks.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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