Region | Iraq

Iraqi villagers flee Iranian shelling

Local officials and the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs in Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdistan region said on Saturday that two women had been hurt in the shelling, across a front of about 50 km.

  • Agencies
  • Published: 15:17 August 20, 2007
  • Gulf News

Qandoul, Iraq: Frightened villagers hid in caves in Iraq's mountainous northeast while others fled on Monday, saying four days of intermittent shelling by the Iranian military had destroyed farms and killed livestock.

"Iran is attacking us like Satan. Many cattle were killed, farms were burned, we have nothing left," Qadir Mohammed, a cattle herder from Qandoul village in Iraq's remote northeast, told Reuters.

"We do not know when are going to be killed. This is not a way of life. We cannot eat, sleep or move," he cried.

Qandoul is about 2 km from the Iranian border.

Local officials and the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs in Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdistan region said on Saturday that two women had been hurt in the shelling, across a front of about 50 km.

There has so far been no comment so far from Tehran or Baghdad about the shelling.

Cross-border fighting occasionally occurs as Iraq's neighbours combat Kurdish separatist rebels operating from bases in Iraq's mountainous and remote north and northeast.

The latest shelling targeted villages near the town of Qal'at Dizah, 325 km north of Baghdad.

Qal'at Dizah mayor Hussein Ahmed said about 300 families had been evacuated from villages to his town.

Villagers fled in police vehicles and on mules, carrying food, clothing and blankets with them.

"This is the first time that these villages were attacked by Iran," Ahmed said.

Some houses were destroyed and dairy farms and orchards had also been damaged, with some still burning, officials said.

"We are in a struggle for survival. If I leave my house we will starve. I will not leave my house," said Goli Mohammed, a 55-year-old woman who sells milk from her cows in Qandoul.

On Saturday, the Iranian news agency Mehr said an Iranian army helicopter which crashed near the border of northern Iraq had been engaged in an operation against the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since 1984, when it launched its struggle for an ethnic homeland in Turkey's southeast.

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