Turkish television footage showed people, many weeping and lamenting the dead, as they gathered after the air strikes Wednesday that killed a group of smugglers along the border, one of the deadliest episodes in the conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish rebels who took up arms in 1984.
Noncombatants have often been caught in the war’s crossfire, but one of the highest civilian tolls in a single day was sure to further sour relations between the government and ethnic Kurds who have long faced discrimination. A government campaign to reconcile with Kurds by granting them more rights has stalled amid a surge in fighting this year.
Dogan news agency video showed people digging graves on a hill near the southeast village of Gulyazi, home of some of the slain smugglers, and the funeral rites quickly took on a political tone. Firat, a pro-Kurdish news agency, said some of the coffins were draped in red, yellow and green, the colors associated with Kurdish identity and the rebel group PKK.