Four PKK separatists, one Turkish soldier killed in clashes
Four Kurdish separatists and one Turkish soldier were killed Tuesday in south-east Turkey, the Turkish military announced Wednesday, reported dpa.
In a short statement posted on its official website, the Turkish General Staff said the four Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) separatists were killed in a firefight with Turkish soldiers that broke out around 9 pm Tuesday night in a mountainous area of the Sirnak region.
In a separate clash, a soldier was killed in the Dicle region of Diyarbakir province, the statement said.
News of the deaths came as the Turkish parliament was set to debate whether to extend for a year a mandate allowing the Turkish military to launch cross-border operations into northern Iraq to hunt down Kurdish separatists who use the mountainous terrain as a base from which to launch attacks inside Turkey.
The extension of the mandate was expected to pass easily later Wednesday.
Tensions have been high in Turkey following last week's PKK attack on a military border post that left 17 Turkish soldiers and 23 PKK separatists dead.
In response the Turkish military has launched a number of air raids on suspected PKK positions inside northern Iraq.
Ankara has complained that the United States has failed to fulfil promises to crack down on PKK activities in northern Iraq and that, therefore, Turkey has no choice but to launch cross-border operations.
Besides a number of air strikes, the Turkish military in February launched a large-scale operation inside northern Iraq.
Turkish media reported that as many as 10,000 soldiers were sent across the border to seek out PKK rebels and their camps.
According to the Turkish military, 240 PKK fighters, 24 Turkish soldiers and three Turkish state-employed village guards were killed in the week-long operation.
Ankara blames the separatist group for the deaths of more than 32,000 people since the early 1980s, when the PKK began its fight for independence or autonomy for the mainly Kurdish-populated south-east of Turkey.