( AP ) - Kurdish rebels fired rockets and grenades at a Turkish military outpost Monday, killing seven soldiers in an attack that heightened tension at a time when Ankara has threatened military action against the rebels in northern Iraq.
The army sent helicopter gunships and reinforcements to Tunceli province in southeastern Turkey after two guerrillas rammed a vehicle into the military post, threw hand grenades and opened fire with automatic weapons, the governor's office said.
Soldiers returned fire, killing one attacker who authorities said had explosives strapped to his body. Local media said the second attacker escaped injured.
Several other guerrillas simultaneously opened fire on the outpost from a nearby forest, the governor's office said. The attack left seven soldiers dead and seven injured. One of the injured was in critical condition, authorities said.
The attack came as Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told European Union officials visiting Ankara that "we have every right to take measures against terrorist activities directed at us from northern Iraq."
Turkey's political and military leaders have been debating whether to stage an incursion into northern Iraq to try to root out Kurdish rebel bases there.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country holds the EU presidency, said he "did not get the impression that Turkey would stage an incursion."
A pro-Kurdish news agency reported Monday that Turkish troops shelled a border area in northern Iraq for a second day in an attack on Kurdish rebels based there.
Abdul-Rahman al-Chadarchi, a spokesman for the Kurdish rebel group PKK, told The Associated Press by telephone that there had been artillery shelling from Turkey into Iraqi territory at dawn, and that there had been simultaneous shelling from the Turkish and Iranian sides on Sunday night.
"There were no casualties. Most of the shells landed in empty areas, valleys and farms. Turkish helicopters are conducting surveillance flights over Iraqi border lands," al-Chadarchi said. The report could not immediately be confirmed.
The leader of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, confirmed shelling by Turkish troops on Kurdish areas early Sunday but said there was no Turkish incursion.
On Monday, the Belgium-based Firat news agency, citing Iraqi Kurdish sources, said Turkish artillery again targeted an area close to the border town of Zakho. On Sunday, the agency said the troops shelled the Hakurk area, farther east.
Turkish authorities, who have called the Firat agency a mouthpiece of the main Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, were not immediately available to comment.
Kurdish guerrillas have long had camps in the Hakurk area, nine miles from the Turkish border.
Turkish troops have occasionally launched brief raids in pursuit of guerrillas in northern Iraq, and have sometimes shelled suspected rebel positions across the border. Turkish authorities rarely acknowledge such military operations, which were more frequent before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Turkey has been building up its military forces on the Iraqi border in recent weeks, amid debate over whether to launch a cross border offensive to attack separatist rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym, PKK. The rebels stage raids in southeast Turkey after crossing over from hide-outs in Iraq and have escalated bomb attacks in the west of the country.
Police arrested a suspected PKK rebel who allegedly staged last month's market bombing in the Aegean port of Izmir that killed one person and injured 15 others.