Iranian attacks kill at least 2 in Kurdish region of Iraq

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By Leila Fadel and Dlovan Barwari
Washington Post staff writers
Friday, June 4, 2010; 3:52 PM

BAGHDAD -- At least two people have been killed and dozens of families have fled in the mountains of the semiautonomous Kurdish region during two weeks of heavy air strikes and artillery attacks that come from neighboring Iran.

The dead include a 14-year-old girl and a 45-year-old woman.

Incensed by the intensity of the attacks and what they say is a brazen ground movement nearly two miles into Iraqi territory, Kurdish officials have reached out to the central government to stop the Iranian incursion and continued shelling, said Jabar al-Yawar, the spokesman for the peshmerga, the Kurdish regional force.

Officials in Baghdad said they doubted the incursion occurred. Although the Iraqi government condemned the attacks, Kurdish newspapers and officials criticized what they say is largely silence from Baghdad.

The shelling is aimed at the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK, a Kurdish militant nationalist group that carries out attacks inside Iran from the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran as well as Turkey sporadically attack inside the Iraqi Qandil mountains, where both the PJAK and their Turkish counterparts, the Kurdistan Worker's Party or PKK, operate.

Villagers caught in the middle have been forced to flee their homes, and aid agencies have been providing some medical care, food and tents.

The Iraqi government summoned Iraq's top Iranian and Turkish diplomats in Baghdad recently to express its "deep concern" and called the attacks "dangerous," said a statement from Iraq's foreign ministry. Both nations are close allies to Iraq. Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said his ministry handed Iran's ambassador a diplomatic note of pressure, asking to cease the attacks immediately.

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