26 PKK terrorists killed in ongoing clashes in Turkey
Turkish security forces dealt a huge blow to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Thursday by killing at least 26 terrorists in southeastern Turkish province of Hakkari on the Iraqi border, Today's Zaman reported.
One Turkish soldier was killed early on Thursday while another soldier was shot dead and five others wounded in ongoing clashes with the PKK in Hakkari, hours after Ankara said it had killed 16 terrorists in the area following a raid on a military convoy.
Clashes in Şemdinli district's Umurlu village left one Turkish soldier dead, while another five were injured, Hakkari governor's office said in a statement on Thursday.
It said the causalities came after soldiers organized a military operation following an attack by the PKK terrorists in Umurlu village.
The wounded soldiers were brought to Yüksekova State Hospital and Hakkari Military Hospital by helicopters.
The clashes underscore a growing cycle of violence in the remote, mountainous province of Hakkari bordering Iraq and Iran - a development which Turkish officials and analysts are linking to the conflict in nearby Syria.
The latest PKK attacks came only hours after government officials said Turkish troops had killed 16 PKK terrorists in an offensive targeting PKK members who killed five soldiers and wounded seven on Wednesday in a bomb attack on their convoy in Şemdinli.
Officials said the army had sent in troop reinforcements and helicopter gunships after Wednesday's attack.
After Umurlu village assault, at least five more PKK terrorists killed in Şemdinli district, governor's office said in a second statement.
The statement said Turkish security forces launched a military operation after one Turkish soldier killed in the earlier attack in Umurlu village and killed five terrorists. The statement reiterated that the military operations in the region continue uninterrupted.
In a related development, Turkish troops killed five more PKK terrorists in an attempt to prevent them from entering into central Şemdinli district, governor's office said in a third statement.
Five PKK terrorists fired on Turkish security forces in central Şemdinli and they were all killed in clashes, the statement added.
In a sign of Ankara's concern over the violence in the mainly Kurdish region, the commander of the military's land forces arrived in Hakkari on Thursday. General Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu said the army's operations would continue "without pause".
"We always stand by our people. Our people should not worry. The Turkish armed forces will continue in its duty to protect the security of the people and the region," Kıvrıkoğlu was quoted as saying on state media Anatolia's website.
It was not immediately clear whether Kıvrıkoğlu was still in Hakkari when the terrorists launched their latest attacks.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the PKK and Turkish forces since the terrorists launched their fight 28 years ago with the aim of carving out a separate state in mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey.
The PKK has since scaled back its demands to political autonomy and more cultural rights for Turkey's estimated 14 million ethnic Kurds.
Since June last year, nearly 800 people have died in the conflict, including about 500 PKK terrorists, more than 200 security personnel and about 85 civilians, according to estimates by think-tank International Crisis Group.
The conflict is focused in the mountainous region bordering Iraq and Iran, but the PKK has also carried out attacks in Turkish cities. Officials blamed it for a car bombing on Monday which killed nine people in the city of Gaziantep, near Turkey's southeastern border with Syria.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has denied involvement in that attack.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of backing PKK terrorists and has warned of military intervention in Syria if the group uses Syrian territory to threaten Turkey.