Several Turkish soldiers killed in major PKK attack
Several Turkish soldiers were killed on Sunday in a major attack in southeastern Hakkari province suspected to have been carried out by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, reports said.
There was no immediate official casualty toll but in a sign of the gravity of the situation Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu broke off a trip to Konya to watch a national football game and summoned an emergency security meeting in Ankara, the official Anatolia agency said.
NTV television said militants staged a mine attack on two military vehicles in a convoy in the Daglica district of Hakkari, a known PKK stronghold.
It added that F-4 and F-16 warplanes carried out strikes in retaliation against 10 targets controlled by the militants suspected to have carried out the attack.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted to the attack during a live television interview but also did not give any casualty figures.
"A mine attack has been staged. There will be a very particular and decisive fight there. We are very sad," he told the A-Haber channel.
"The weather conditions were unfavourable. A struggle was being waged under such conditions," he said, adding the attack happened during a "clean-up operation" against PKK militants.
The PKK claimed the attack as an "act of sabotage", in a statement on the website of its military wing, the People\’s Defence Forces (HPG).
The group — which is known for on occasion exaggerating tolls of the security forces — said 15 Turkish soldiers had been killed.
Davutoglu, who had watched Turkey defeat the Netherlands in a key Euro 2016 qualifier in Konya, was rushed in his motorcade to attend the security meeting with officials including army chief of staff Hulusi Akar and spy chief Hakan Fidan.
The PKK has been staging daily attacks against the Turkish armed forces as the military presses an over month-long operation against the group in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.
The violence has left in tatters a 2013 ceasefire aimed at assisting the search for a final peace deal to end the PKK\’s three-decade insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The PKK initially took up arms in 1984 in search of an independent Kurdish state for Turkey\’s Kurdish minority, although latterly the demands focused on greater autonomy and rights.
Earlier Sunday, two Turkish police were killed in an attack in the Sur district of southeastern city of Diyarbakir that was attributed to the PKK, security sources told AFP.
Some 70 members of the security forces have been killed since July in attacks blamed on the PKK, while official media have claimed that at least 967 militants have been killed.
The unrest comes at a explosive time in Turkey as the country prepares to hold snap elections on November 1 following June 7 polls where Erdogan\’s ruling party lost its overall majority.