ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party exploited the deaths of 35 people in a botched military airstrike.
By saying 35 Kurds were killed, the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, is trying to make "the issue an ethnic one," Erdogan said in a speech at his party's parliamentary group meeting, Today's Zaman reported.
"Whoever makes the issue an ethnic one by saying 35 Kurds were killed, this means they trample all over all kinds of humanitarian values," Erdogan said, adding the government views the victims as "35 people losing their lives in Uludere. We regard this issue as 35 citizens, 35 brothers who lost their lives. But they [the BDP] are making the issue an ethnic one."
Turkish warplanes mistakenly killed 35 smugglers and other villagers in an operation targeting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party's bases in Iraq Wednesday night. The victims, killed in northern Iraq, were from villages in the southeastern Turkey province of Sirnak.
Erdogan called the deaths tragic and said they are being investigated by military and civilian prosecutors.