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Commanders ordered air raid in Uludere: Turkish minister

Written By THA on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 | 15:14

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Air Force commanders were responsible for ordering a botched air raid that killed 34 civilians in December 2011 in the southeastern province of Şırnak’s Uludere district, Turkish Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin said today, weighing into a debate about who called in the strike.

The force will act more carefully in future operations after "having experienced this incident," he told private broadcaster NTV in an interview.

The minister said "it appeared" that Air Force commanders who viewed the footage from an unmanned aerial vehicle ordered the air raid on a group of smugglers who were mistaken for members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), killing 34 civilians.

The smugglers would have stood trial for their illicit trading activities if they had not been killed in the raid, Şahin said.

"Smugglers in the area are not limited to 34 of our people who were killed. That area, all the way to Kandil Mountains [in northern Iraq], is under the control of the PKK," Şahin said.

"Smuggling is one of the PKK's financial sources. The people who were killed in the incident were simply pawns. We need to find the main actors behind them," Şahin said. (Hürriyet Daily News)
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