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Turkey

Turkish government to pay for 1994 bombing of Kurdish villages

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Turkey to pay 2.3 million euros to victims of the bombing of two Kurdish villages in 1994. Turkey was found guilty of the attack, having blamed it on Kurdish separatists.

The March 26 bombings of Kuskonar and Kocagili - Turkish villages close to the borders of both Syria and Iraq - caused at least 38 deaths. The Turkish government blamed the attack on the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (KWP), who from 1984 until March this year had fought an armed struggle for the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish state.

But the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR, pictured above) ruled on Tuesday the attack had been the responsibility of the Turkish government, and awarded damages, amounting to $3.9 million, to 38 applicants who lost relatives or were injured in the bombing.

"The court concluded that the Turkish government had conducted an aerial attack killing 33 of the applicants' relatives and injuring three of the applicants themselves," the ECHR said in a statement.

The court said the Turkish government's blaming of the attack on Kurdish rebels was "was generally the case in southeast Turkey at the time, they hastily blamed the killings on the PKK without any basis.”

The attacks "had been ordered and carried out without the slightest concern for human life by the pilots or by their superiors, which they had then tried to cover up by refusing to hand over the flight log”, ruled the court.

More investigation needed

Judges in Strasbourg urged Turkish authorities to further probe the bombings in a bid to “identify and punish those responsible ... and prevent further impunity.”

Of the 33 applicants to be awarded damages, Selim Yildrim received the most - 250,000 euros ($335,000) - after his wife, two daughters and two sons were killed. Another plaintiff, Hatice Benzer, was awarded 155,000 euros, having lost eight members of his family.

The judgment is not yet final, with Turkey having three months to appeal.