PKK claims deadly suicide attack against troops in eastern Turkey
ISTANBUL - The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Monday said one of its guerrillas carried out a deadly suicide bombing against troops in eastern Turkey as a reprisal for the alleged bombing of a civilian village.
Two soldiers were killed and 31 were wounded in the bombing early Sunday in the Dogubayazit district of Agri province, the army said.
The PKK said the attack was carried out by a "martyr" with the nom-de-guerre of Andok Eris, publishing a picture of him with his face concealed by a scarf. His age was not given.
The attack came as Turkish jets pound targets of the PKK in northern Iraq in a broad "anti-terror" campaign which has also seen the outlawed group step up attacks inside Turkey.
The strike is believed to be the first time the PKK has employed a suicide bombing during the current phase of the conflict, although it had repeatedly used the tactic in the past.
According to Turkish media, the bomber drove up to the local military headquarters building in a tractor laden with two tons of explosives.
The PKK said in its statement the bombing was revenge for the air strike Saturday by Turkish war planes on the village of Zarkel (Zergele in Kurdish) in northern Iraq which Kurdish media say killed civilians but the army insisted was targeted at "terrorists".
"The sacrifice operation in revenge for the Zergele massacre was realised by our friend the martyr Andok Eris," said the statement by the People's Defence Force (HPG), the military wing of the PKK.
"Andok Eris, with his brave sacrifice operation reached martyrdom," the HPG said, adding that the attacker's real name was Murat Butun.
The PKK, which is known for greatly inflating tolls, said 50 soldiers were killed in the bombing and nine more in the "ambush action afterwards".
The PKK's insurgency for greater rights and powers for Turkey's Kurdish minority has claimed tens of thousands of lives since it began more than 30 years ago. The current fighting has left a 2013 ceasefire in tatters.