Five Peshmerga were killed and seven others injured by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Duhok province’s Amedi district on Saturday, according to the Peshmerga ministry. The PKK said they only fired warning shots to stop the Peshmerga from nearing their position and did not kill them.
“A Peshmerga force fell into a trap by the PKK on Metina mountain. Five Peshmerga were martyred and two others injured,” Sarbast Lazgin, deputy Peshmerga minister, stated. A later statement from the ministry said seven Peshmerga were injured as well. Iraqi Kurdish Television channels showed live footage of the injured being taken to Duhok hospital.
The PKK, however, said their fighters “opened fire into the air with personal weapons in order to warn” the Peshmerga when they entered an area on the mountain where the PKK are present, denying the claim that they deliberately killed 5 Peshmerga fighters.
“However, their armored vehicle ignored our warning and kept moving. We have not confirmed how they were attacked. We do not know if an old mine exploded or it was an airstrike,” the PKK added in a statement carried by its own media outlet Rojnews.
Most of the Peshmerga casualties were senior officers and members of a unit that clears mines and explosives. Their commander, Hussein Blani, told Rudaw TV the men were hit by a rocket, but it is not clear who carried out the attack. “Two of our engineering teams went to Amedi as part of their duty, but they were hit by a rocket,” said Blani.
The Kurdistan Region Presidency condemned the attack, saying “there should be a limit on such behavior of the PKK in the Kurdistan Region.”
“Once again, we call on the PKK and warn them that they should no longer be a reason for unrest and insecurity, and they should withdraw their fighters from Kurdistan Region’s borders,” the presidency’s statement added.
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani tweeted his condemnation of the PKK attack and urged the parliament and parties “to speak in a single voice against this aggression.”
The British Consul General in Erbil, James Thornton, tweeted: “I condemn the PKK attack on the Peshmerga today” and sent his condolences to the families of the victims.
The PKK are engaged in a weeks-long fight with Turkish forces in the area. Turkey launched twin operations Claw-Lightning and Claw-Thunderbolt against the PKK within the Kurdistan Region’s borders on April 23. The focus of the operation is within the Metina and Avashin areas of northern Duhok province.
Earlier on Saturday, a PKK spokesperson issued a warning to the Peshmerga, according to ANF, a media outlet affiliated with the group. “A force is trying to enter the area in Metina where our forces are located. We are resisting the Turkish state’s invasion of Kurdistan. We call on these incoming forces not to stab our forces in the back. Brother’s blood should not be spilled. For this, we issued this appeal to all forces and our people,” said the spokesperson.
Four civilians have been injured and 1,500 people have been displaced from 22 villages since Turkey launched its operations, according to a report released this week. The Peshmerga ministry, in a statement, said their forces were in the area to “protect the people and villages of these areas as well as to bring security to the area.”
“We had previously warned about the possibility of such incidents. Everyone has to respect the borders of the Region and not put the security and stability of the Kurdistan Region at risk,” the statement adds.
Rojnews, reported that Iraqi border guards had accompanied Peshmerga to Metina mountain.