Militants from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) have stepped up their attacks against the Turkish army, killing two soldiers and wounding 31 more in a suicide attack overnight in eastern Turkey. The government in Ankara, meanwhile, continues its air strikes against Kurdish militants.
PKK fighters drove a tractor filled with explosives into a military outpost in the Dogubeyazit district of Agri province along the border with Iran, the army said in a statement. Four of the wounded are in a serious condition.
The PKK also attacked a unit on patrol in the south-eastern province of Mardin late on Saturday night, killing one soldier and wounding seven more. Turkish media said the militants set up “an ambush” near the area to disrupt the arrival of humanitarian aid. The Kurdish group claimed responsibility for all of the attacks, saying that “dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed.”
At least 17 Turkish security personnel have been killed and dozens more injured in separate attacks since 22 July, when PKK militants broke a ceasefire brokered in 2013.
The Turkish air force is carrying out intensive raids daily against rebel sites in northern Iraq and Syria. At least 260 Kurdish fighters have been killed and more than 400 militants wounded in the raids, claimed Ankara. The Turkish attacks have raised concerns about the possibility of civilian areas in Kurdistan being targeted. The Kurdish authorities announced on Saturday that six civilians were killed in the Turkish bombardment, although this was denied by the Turks.
In a statement published in Ankara on Sunday, the Democratic People’s Party said that ten civilians were killed on Saturday – “including children and a pregnant woman” – while 15 more were wounded in the raids, which targeted sites north of Erbil. According to the Turkish army, it is only targeting “militant” sites.
Nevertheless, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani called on the PKK to withdraw its fighters from the area “to prevent having citizens become victims of this war.”
In response, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a statement that “the fight against terrorist organisations, will continue.” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a “war on terror” against PKK and ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria; unlike some of his allies, he does not differentiate between the two groups