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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 June 2007, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Iraq condemns Turkish 'shelling'
Turkish soldiers on military exercise in Cizre, near Iraq
Turkish troops have been on exercises in Cizre, near Iraq
Iraq has made an official protest to Turkey, accusing it of shelling Kurdish areas in northern Iraq this week.

A protest letter by the Iraqi foreign ministry said the shelling caused widespread damage in northern Iraq.

Turkey has not confirmed any such shelling but it has been building up forces along the border with Iraq.

Speculation grows that Ankara could mount a raid in Iraq on PKK rebels sheltering there who it blames for recent attacks in Turkey.

The Iraqi foreign ministry summoned Turkey's charge d'affaires to voice its protest.

The letter said that said the shelling took place over several hours on Wednesday and early Thursday, starting large fires and causing serious damage.

It said such actions "undermine confidence between the two nations and negatively affect their friendship".

However, it added that Iraq would not allow its territory to be used as a base or a springboard for action against neighbours and any PKK (the Kurdistan Workers' Party) presence was illegal and rejected.

"Iraq would like to take this opportunity to declare its resolve to co-operate with Turkish authorities to allay Turkey's legitimate fears through a constructive dialogue and positive co-operation," the letter said.

The Iraqi protest letter is clearly aimed at keeping the rising tension as an affair to be dealt with between the two states and not between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds, the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says.

'Security zones'

The Iraqi protest comes amid a major build-up of troops and tanks on the border with northern Iraq.

Turkey says some 4,000 militants have bases there and are able to mount cross-border attacks.

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On Thursday, several areas close to the border in south-eastern Turkey were declared "temporary security zones".

Four soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb early on Friday in one of the zones.

At least five other people were injured when Kurdish guerrillas detonated the bomb near the town of Siirt.

Attacks by the banned PKK, which has been fighting for an ethnic homeland since 1984, have been increasing in recent weeks.

Last month, a suicide bombing in Ankara, blamed on the group, killed eight civilians.


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