People look at the dead bodies of Kurd civilians killed in airstrikes in the village of Ortasu in the southeastern Turkish province of Sirnak, December 29, 2011.
Source: Press TV
Survivors and witnesses of a recent Turkish airstrike that killed 35 Kurdish civilians have questioned the military's claim that they had mistaken them for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists.
Turkey has admitted that its warplanes mistakenly targeted Kurdish smugglers in the village of Ortasu in Sirnak province in southeastern Turkey close to the border with Iraq on Wednesday night.
"A 10-year-old, a 13-year-old cannot be terrorists," one of the survivors, Servet Encu, said on Friday.
Local security sources confirmed the group was “smuggling gas and sugar into Turkey from northern Iraq.”
“The lightness of their load should have made it obvious the travelers were not fighters” Encu added.
According to the locals, PKK terrorists travel with fewer mules and are fully loaded.
On Thursday, at the state hospital of Uludere, another survivor said soldiers had phoned his village chief to say they could come and pick up the bodies of the smugglers.
"How could they know the dead people were smugglers if it is a mistake?" he asked.
On Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the attack as “unfortunate” and “saddening,” noting that half the dead were less than 20 years old.
The incident sparked clashes between hundreds of stone-throwing protesters and police in several cities in southeast Turkey.
The Turkish military began an operation in northern Iraq in October after 24 Turkish troops were killed in an attack by the PKK in the town of Cukurca near the Iraqi border. The army killed 36 PKK members in the Kazan Valley of Hakkari province.
Over 45,000 people have lost their lives since the PKK launched an armed campaign against Ankara in Turkey's Kurdish majority southeast in 1984.