Bloody escalation in Turkey-PKK clashes
DIYARBAKIR (Turkey) - Turkey's army killed 35 Kurdish militants after they attempted to storm a base in the southeastern Hakkari province early on Saturday, military officials said.
The overnight attack came hours after clashes in Hakkari's Cukurca district between soldiers and militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that left eight soldiers dead, the officials said.
The soldiers were performing a security check when they were attacked.
The militants attempted to take the base in three different groups, but were spotted by aerial reconnaissance. An air operation was launched, killing 23 of them, the officials said.
Four more were then killed in a ground operation, they said.
The remaining eight were killed in clashes in Hakkari's Cukurca district.
Friday's clashes in Cukurca also left 25 soldiers wounded, the officials said.
Turkey's military - NATO's second-largest - is grappling with the insurgency in the mainly Kurdish southeast as its senior ranks undergo a major shake-up in following a July 15-16 coup attempt.
Turkey has blamed the coup on followers of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and officials have made no attempt to link the plot with the PKK.
Hundreds of Turkish security force members have been killed by the PKK in attacks since the collapse of a two-year ceasefire in July last year.
In response, the government has launched military operations against the Kurdish militant group, killing thousands of militants. Activists claim innocent civilians have also been killed in the military offensives.
Over 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK -- proscribed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States -- first took up arms in 1984.