Source AP ©

Turkey has right to act against Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq

Foreign minister of Turkey asserted his country's right to act against Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq on Monday.

"I have told them that we have every right to take measures against terrorist activities directed at us from northern Iraq," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told a news conference after a meeting with European Union officials.

Turkey's political and military leaders have been debating whether to stage an incursion into northern Iraq to try to root out rebel bases there.

However, Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he "did not get the impression that Turkey would stage an incursion."

On Monday, a pro-Kurdish news agency reported that Turkish troops shelled a border area in northern Iraq for a second day early Monday in an attack on Kurdish rebels based there. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

The Dogan news agency reported that Kurdish guerrillas attacked a Turkish military outpost, injuring several soldiers.

The leader of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, confirmed shelling by Turkish troops on Kurdish areas early Sunday but said there was no Turkish incursion.

On Monday, the Belgium-based Firat news agency, citing local Iraqi Kurdish sources, said Turkish artillery again targeted an area close to the border town of Zakho. On Sunday, the agency said the troops shelled the Hakurk area, farther east.

Turkish authorities, who have called the Firat agency a mouthpiece of the main Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, were not immediately available to comment.

Kurdish guerrillas have long had camps in the Hakurk area, 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Turkish border.

Turkish troops have occasionally launched brief raids in pursuit of guerrillas in northern Iraq, and have sometimes shelled suspected rebel positions across the border. Turkish authorities rarely acknowledge such military operations, which were more frequent before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Turkey has been building up its military forces on the Iraqi border in recent weeks, amid debate over whether to launch a cross border offensive to attack separatist rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym, PKK. The rebels stage raids in southeast Turkey after crossing over from hide-outs in Iraq.

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