Turkey's air force attacked suspected Kurdish rebel targets across the border in Iraq, but the roughly 35 people killed were teenage smugglers mistaken for guerrillas. A ruling party spokesman said today the victims "were not terrorists," but people smuggling cigarettes into Turkey from Iraq. He added that officials are investigating possible intelligence failures that led to the strikes. He expressed regret for the deaths and suggested the government would compensate the victims.
The Turkish military confirmed last night's raids, saying its jets struck an area of northern Iraq frequently used by the rebels to enter Turkey after drones detected a group approaching the often unmarked mountainous border. It is one of the largest one-day civilian death tolls incurred during the military's 27-year-old drive against rebels, who are fighting Turkey for autonomy in the mostly Kurdish southeast. Hundreds of Kurds staged a protest in the town of Yuksekova, in Sirnak province, to denounce the raids and call for the resignation of Turkey's interior minister, Dogan reported.