‘New PKK attacks’ kill three soldiers in southeastern Turkey

Friday 31/07/2015
Renewed confrontation

DIYABAKIR (Turkey) - Three soldiers were killed in southeastern Turkey on Tuesday in the latest attacks on security forces blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the army and security sources said.

Kurdish militants detonated a remote-controlled mine as a military convoy passed by in the Arakoy region of Sirnak province bordering Iraq and Syria, the military said.

The explosion triggered clashes between Turkish soldiers and PKK rebels, it added.

The army said two soldiers had died, and one soldier and one village guard were wounded in the attack by the "separatist terror organisation", its customary phrase for the PKK.

Later on Tuesday one more soldier was killed and another injured when Kurdish militants attacked with missiles an armoured brigade in the Silopi district of Sirnak, security sources said.

The militants on motorbikes also attacked a police headquarters with rocket launchers in Hakkari province without causing any casualties, the Anatolia news agency said.

The PKK has stepped up its strikes on the security forces in the last two weeks, as Turkish warplanes bomb its positions in northern Iraq.

Turkish F-16s bombed PKK targets around the district of Daglica in southeastern Turkey -- long seen as a PKK stronghold -- as a reprisal for a mortar attack earlier in the region that lightly wounded a six-year-old girl, the Dogan news agency said.

The spiral of violence sparked by the killing of 32 pro-Kurdish activists last month in a town on the Syrian border by suspected Islamic State militants has left a 2013 ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK in tatters.

According to a toll, 20 members of the Turkish security forces have been killed in attacks blamed on the PKK since the current crisis began.

The PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies, took up arms for self-rule in 1984 in an armed struggle which has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Meanwhile, an explosion hit a natural gas pipeline transporting gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey in the eastern province of Kars, the Anatolia news agency said.

There was no immediate claim but the PKK has repeatedly targeted energy infrastructure in Turkey in the past.

Turkish warplanes have for over a week carried out hundreds of sorties over northern Iraq, with official media claiming that that they have caused significant damage to PKK infrastructure and killed some 260 militants.

Ankara is waging a two-pronged cross-border "anti-terror" bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and PKK rebels in northern Iraq. But so far the raids have overwhelmingly targeted the Kurdish rebels.

On Sunday, two Turkish soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in a suicide bombing by a PKK militant in the east of the country, the first time the group has used the tactic in the current escalation.