Posted on July 30, 2016 by Editorial Staff in 1 Top News, PKK
Kurdish PKK female fighters. Photo: AFP
HAKKARI, Turkey’s Kurdish region,— Eight Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with Kurdish militants in Turkish Kurdistan, the country’s restive southeast, the army said Saturday, raising the toll from the deadliest such attack on the military since the failed coup.
The soldiers were performing a security check when they were attacked by militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Hakkari province on the road near Cukurca late Friday.
The army said in a statement another 25 soldiers were injured during the clashes in the area close to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Previous reports late Friday had said that five soldiers were killed.
Eight militants were “neutralised” in the area after an air force operation, the army added.
Meanwhile the PKK said in a statement released on Saturday that 15 Turkish soldiers were killed in the clashes and at least 25 soldiers were wounded and some others fled the scene by jumping into the Zap river, the statement added.
The Kurdish militants have seized ammunition from the army, the statement said.
Fighting between the military and the PKK has continued since the July 15 failed putsch in which a rogue group within the armed forces tried to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.
Turkey has blamed the coup on followers of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and officials have made no attempt to link the plot with the PKK.
Turkish security forces were engaged in a large-scale military operation in Hakkari to target Kurdish militants in the area earlier this month.
Attacks against Turkish military personnel intensified since the collapse of a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire last July, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of security forces.
Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the PKK in the country’s southeastern Kurdish region after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.
Observers say the crackdown has taken a heavy toll on the Kurdish civilian population and accuse Turkey of using collective punishment against the minority.
Pro-Kurdish opposition political parties say about 1,000 civilians, mostly Kurds, have perished in the fighting, since the Turkish offensive against the PKK centred in towns and cities in Turkish Kurdistan.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 78-million population. A large Turkey’s Kurdish community openly sympathise with PKK rebels.