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Attacks cross Iraq-Turkey border

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  • Kurds: Turkish shelling sets farms ablaze in northern Iraq
  • Turkey: Kurdish guerrillas attacked villages on its side of the border late Friday
  • Turkey's government threatening cross-border attack to root out guerrillas
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IRBIL, Iraq (CNN) -- Turkish troops shelled farmland around a half-dozen villages in northern Iraq from across the tense border, an Iraqi Kurdish official said Sunday, in what the Turkish military called retaliation for weekend attacks by Kurdish rebels.

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Turkish military trucks carry tanks on a road in southeastern Turkey on October 10.

A provincial intelligence official in Iraq's Kurdish city of Dohuk said the shelling set orchards and farmland ablaze, but no casualties were reported. Firefighters worked until just before daybreak to put out a blaze that scorched fields on farms near the border.

Turkey's military reported Saturday that Kurdish separatist guerrillas attacked villages on its side of the border late Friday, wounding one soldier near the village of Yemisli.

"The Turkish military responded to these unacceptable attacks and will continue to respond," a military statement said.

The most recent shelling began at 10:30 p.m. Saturday and lasted for more than four hours, striking farmlands and adjacent roads used by villagers. Authorities fear as many as 30,000 people may be displaced from their homes if the bombardment continues, the intelligence official said.

The shelling comes as Turkey's government is threatening to mount a cross-border attack to root out guerrillas from the separatist Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, which has battled Turkish troops in the country's heavily Kurdish southeast since 1984. The United States and the European Union have branded the group a terrorist organization, and Turkish officials say 30 soldiers and civilians have been killed in PKK attacks since late September.

Turkey has about 60,000 on Iraq's northern frontier, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he will ask parliament this week to authorize a military incursion -- a move U.S. officials fear could undermine the stability of Iraq's American-backed government. U.S. envoys have urged Iraq to crack down on the rebels and held weekend talks in Ankara to persuade NATO ally Turkey to stay its hand.

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Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari could not confirm Sunday's reports, but restated that Iraq's official position is to resolve all issues with neighboring countries including Turkey diplomatically, based on Iraq's constitution and law.

Defense Minister Abdel Qader Mohammed Jassim has been involved in diplomatic talks with the Turkish Ambassador in Baghdad and has called for resolving these issues "peacefully" and strengthening ties between Iraq and Turkey, al-Askari said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Nic Robertson, Ingrid Formanek and Talia Kayali contributed to this report.

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