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Eight killed in northern Iraq in shelling blamed on Turkey

An injured man is pictured at a hospital after shelling in the city of Zakho in the north of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on July 20
— Arbil (Iraq) (AFP)

Eight civilians including two children were killed and 23 wounded in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region on Wednesday, when artillery shells hit a park in an attack local officials blamed on Turkey.

Mushir Bashir, the head of Zakho region, said the victims were mainly "Arab Iraqi tourists, mostly from central and southern Iraq", and blamed forces from across the border.

"Turkey hit the village twice today," Bashir told AFP.

Bashir, speaking to a local broadcaster, said that "Turkish artillery fire on the tourist region of Parakh killed eight people and injured 23".

A Kurdish government official had initially reported at least five dead from Turkish fire.

The victims were tourists who had come to the hill village of Parakh in Zakho district to escape sweltering temperatures further south in the country, Bashir added.

As well as two children, the dead included three men and three women, Zakho health official Amir Ali told reporters.

A source in Turkey's defence ministry said that he had "no information reporting or confirming artillery fire in this area".

Turkey launched a new offensive in northern Iraq in April dubbed "Operation Claw-Lock", which it said targets fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Designated as a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, the PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has complicated relations with the PKK as its presence in the region hampers vital trade relations with neighbouring Turkey.

The military operations have seen Turkey's ambassador in Baghdad regularly summoned to the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.