Turkish soldier killed in clash with Kurdish rebels

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 02, 2012 4:48 PM
Turkish soldier killed in clash with Kurdish rebels

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - At least one Turkish soldier was killed and seven wounded after Kurdish militants opened fire on their outpost in a remote area of southeastern Turkey on Thursday, the provincial governor's office said.

Members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) attacked the sentry in the Eruh region of Siirt province using assault weapons, and the soldiers returned fire, they said.

The attack occurred at about 7:30 p.m. (1330 EDT) while the soldiers were preparing to break their fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the sources added.

Security sources told Reuters two soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded. It was not immediately clear why there was a discrepancy in the number of killed and wounded.

Eruh was the site of a PKK attack on August 15, 1984, that is considered the start of the group's armed campaign for more autonomy in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

More than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died in the conflict since then.

Late on Thursday, the Turkish army deployed reinforcements, backed by helicopter gunships, to the area as clashes with the PKK continued, the security officials said.

Separately, fighting between the PKK and the Turkish military in nearby Hakkari province, which borders Iraq, continued into its 10th day, the officials said.

They said two soldiers and 39 rebels have been killed since last week in a mountainous area near the town of Semdinli.

The escalation in fighting occurs amid concern in Ankara that Syrian Kurds affiliated with the PKK may take control of areas along the Turkish border as President Bashar al-Assad's forces fight a 16-month rebellion in other parts of the country.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan signaled last week that Turkey could intervene next door if it perceived the PKK forming a threat in Syria. The PKK is based mainly in northern Iraq, and Turkey regularly bombs and shells its camps there.

Erdogan has been one of Assad's most outspoken critics over his response to the uprising, in which more than 17,000 people have died since March 2011.

(Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Roger Atwood)

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