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Top Iraqi Kurdistan Official says Government Moves Against PKK


The prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan says his government is continuing to take measures against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. Turkey's government is threatening to cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan to attack the rebels who have been launching raids into Turkey. VOA's Deborah Block has more from Iraqi Kurdistan's capital, Irbil.

Iraq's Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani says he will continue to lead efforts to curb the activities of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK.

These include cutting off the group's supplies and setting up checkpoints to stop rebel movements. Turkey is blaming the autonomous Kurdish government for not taking a tougher stance against the rebels.

But Prime Minister Barzani says his government cannot be held accountable for the PKK's actions.

He says even though his government is against PKK raids inside Turkey, the government of Iraqi Kurdistan is not responsible for what the group does in Turkey. He says the PKK must find a peaceful way to settle its differences with Turkey. He says the group's actions are hurting the people of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Earlier this week, President Bush discussed the border situation with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington. The Turkish leader said decisions have been taken on how to deal with the rebels, but he did not elaborate.

Kurdistan leader Nechirvan Barzani says his government is open to all options to solve the border problem and he hopes peace will prevail. But he says if Turkey attacks over the Iraqi border, Kurdistan will defend itself.

Kurdistan is the most peaceful area of Iraq, and many Iraqis have fled violence in other parts of the country and come to the region.

An Iraqi spokesman for the U.S.-Iraqi drive to pacify Baghdad said more than 46,000 Iraqis who fled abroad returned to Iraq last month. He said they came back following an improvement in security.

U.S. and Iraqi officials say the level of violence has dropped in the past few months, especially in Baghdad. But the Iraqi Red Crescent Society says local residents continued to flee their homes in large numbers in September.

The United Nations says more than two million Iraqis have fled the country, mostly to Syria and Jordan.

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