24 Turkish soldiers killed in clash with PKK

AFP , Wednesday 19 Oct 2011

Kurdish rebels kill 24 Turkish soldiers and injure 18 in simultaneous attacks in southeast Turkey, prompting Turkey to enter northern Iraq looking for the rebels, Kurdish news agency reports

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Turkey's President Abdullah Gul listens at a military post during his visit to troops in the Hakkari province in southeastern Turkey, October 15 (Photo: Reuters)

 

Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels killed 24 Turkish troops and injured 18 in attacks occurring in several locations in Cukurca and Yuksekova in Hakkari province near the Iraqi border, during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday. 

The toll is the heaviest for the army since 1993, when the PKK killed 33 unarmed soldiers in Bingol province, in southeast Turkey.

Television reports said the army had initiated an air-supported operation against the rebels in response and the head of the general staff and some commanders had gone to the region.

The death toll might rise as some injured soldiers have sustained life-threatening wounds, NTV said.

As a result, Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq in pursuit of the rebels, a Kurdish news agency reported.

"Turkish soldiers from two separate points in Cukurca town crossed into south Kurdistan to follow (rebels)," said Firat news agency, which is known as a mouthpiece of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Turkey will not be shaken by terror... We will do whatever we can do to finish this," President Abdullah Gul said in televised remarks.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cancelled a trip to Kazakhstan and to Serbia because of the attacks, NTV said.

Clashes between the PKK and the army have escalated since summer.

On Tuesday, a landmine explosion killed five police and three civilians in southeast Turkey in an attack which security sources blamed on Kurdish rebels.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority south-eastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

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