Turkey promises fair probe into civilian deaths

ANKARA -- The Turkish government has promised no cover-up in an investigation into deaths of 35 civilians, killed by warplanes after being mistaken for Kurdish militants.

The incident sparked clashes with police in Istanbul as pro-Kurdish demonstrators vented their anger.

The ruling AK party says there was intelligence indicating an attack by PKK activists in the area but now claims the victims were mostly cigarette smugglers.

On the streets of Istanbul, some people were saddened by what happened but stopped short of criticizing the military.

“People were not having a picnic there anyway” said one man. “They were at least smugglers. These things can happen. It was an unfortunate accident”.

Another man said, “It is deeply saddening by humanitarian standards. But if you look at the law, what they were doing was illegal. There was a shortcoming of intelligence. It is a sad incident.”

The strike took place near the Iraqi border where smuggling is an important source of income. But the Turkish military says it is also an area where PKK bases are located and where there are no civilian inhabitants.

The PKK is fighting for an independent Kurdish state. The PKK called on Kurds to rise against Turkey after the deadly attack.