Monday, August 21, 2006

Iran Shells Iraqi Kurdistan Villages

Iranian artillery shells killed at least two civilians and caused dozens of families to flee Iraqi Kurdistan villages, a senior Kurdish official says. The shells were aimed at an area known as a base for militant Kurdish opposition groups seeking independence from Iran and Turkey, said Mustafa Sayed Qadir, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which governs the eastern half of Iraqi Kurdistan. The government of Iraq is aware of the shelling, which has taken place in recent months, but has not taken an official position. Iran and Turkey have sizeable Kurdish populations that live in mountainous areas bordering Iraqi Kurdistan. In recent weeks, the two countries have stepped up warnings to Kurdish militant groups seeking independence. Iraqi Kurdistan is autonomous from the rest of Iraq and home to most of the country's five million Kurds.