DIYARBAKIR (Reuters) - Two Turkish soldiers and an armed guard were killed in a blast from a homemade mine planted by Kurdish militants on Tuesday in the southeastern province of Sirnak, security sources said.
The deaths came amid a surge of attacks against the military by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and reciprocal air strikes by Turkish jets on PKK targets in northern Iraq.
Security officials said PKK militants planted the remote controlled device and detonated it as a military car passed. The blast killed two military personnel and injured two others, also killing a village guard.
The deaths bring the number of Turkish security forces killed by the PKK since July 20 to at least 18, the worst bloodshed since the group and the government agreed a ceasefire in 2013.
The PKK announced it was stepping up attacks in mid-July over what it said were ceasefire violations, but has responded with yet more violence since Turkey began its air campaign on PKK camps in northern Iraq on July 24, in what the prime minister has called a "synchronized fight against terror".
Turkish jets have also hit Islamic State positions in Syria, and Turkey has granted permission to the U.S.-led coalition targeting the militants to use its air-bases to launch further raids.
Turkish officials have said strikes against the PKK are a response to increased violence from the militants. The clashes risk further derailing stalled efforts to end the three-decade insurgency, which has left an estimated 40,000 people dead.
(Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan and Ece Toksabay; Writing by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Alison Williams)