Ankara: The Turkish government on Tuesday said that insurgents belonging to Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) are likely to make explosives out of the chemicals they have stolen.
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that the guerrillas of PKK have stolen 400 kg of ammonium nitrate used in the manufacture of explosives.
He further added that Turkish troops have launched a military operation with helicopters and reconnaisance planes to locate and retrieve the stolen material.
The theft occurred Monday in the southeastern province of Silopi when the rebels intercepted the ammonium nitrate as it was being transferred from a coal mine escorted by private security guards.
Turkish officials blamed the theft on "separatist terrorists", the term used by Ankara to refer to the PKK.
Arinc said that he suspected that the guerrillas were transporting the stolen material to Mount Cudi, near the border with Iraq, an area where the PKK operates.
The theft occurred amid rising tension between the PKK and the government following two years of talks aimed at bringing the three-decade-long insurgency to an end.
On Oct 14, Turkish fighter jets attacked PKK targets in southeastern Turkey, in the first operation of its kind since the beginning of the peace talks.
(With IANS inputs)