Iran says PKK-linked group claims prosecutor’s killing

January 21, 2010, Thursday/ 16:26:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH REUTERS
An outlawed Kurdish group has claimed responsibility for the killing of a prosecutor in a northwestern Iranian city, the ISNA news agency reported, citing an Iranian official.

Vali Haji Gholizadeh, a prosecutor in the city of Khoy in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, was shot dead in front of his home on Monday night.

Mohammad Ali Mousavi, head of the provincial prosecutor’s office, said on Tuesday that three people had been arrested so far in connection with the shooting and that the investigation was still under way.

“Based on information obtained so far, the PJAK [Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan] group has claimed responsibility for the assassination of Khoy’s prosecutor,” ISNA quoted him as saying, without giving details.

Another official earlier said four suspects had been arrested.

Iranian security forces often clash with members of the outlawed PJAK, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which took up arms in 1984 to fight for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.

Like Iraq and Turkey, Iran has a large Kurdish population, mainly living in the Islamic republic’s northwest and west.

Iran sees PJAK, which seeks autonomy for Kurdish areas in Iran and shelters in Iraq’s northeastern border provinces, as a terrorist group. The United States, Iran’s arch-foe, in February of last year also branded PJAK as a terrorist organization. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by a large majority of the international community, including the US.

In 2008, the Turkish military conducted a major operation against the PKK in northern Iraq, and Turkish warplanes have since carried out regular cross-border bombing raids against targets in the mountainous region. Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ said at the time that Turkey and Iran were sharing intelligence and coordinating military operations against the PKK. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in 2008 to expand their security cooperation.

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