Kurdish rebel attacks leave 17 dead in Turkey

Fighting erupted overnight after PKK rebels attacked a military unit.

Updated: Jul 01, 2010, 16:43 PM IST

Ankara: Twelve Kurdish rebels and five members of the Turkish security forces were killed in violent clashes in the southeast of the country following two separate Kurdish attacks, the Army said on Thursday.

Fighting erupted overnight Thursday after rebels from the Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK), armed with rockets and assault rifles, attacked a military unit in a rural area near Dogan village in Siirt province.

Four soldiers were wounded in the initial fire and two later died in hospital, the general staff said in a statement on its website.

PKK rebels also launched a simultaneous attack against a group of village guards -- Kurdish militia armed and paid by the government to fight the rebels -- securing a road near the village, killing three of them.

Twelve PKK rebels were killed in the ensuing operation backed by artillery fire and helicopter gunships, the statement added.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, has stepped up attacks on Turkish targets as part of a 26-year campaign for self-rule in the Kurdish-majority southeast.

Last month, six soldiers were killed in a rocket attack by the rebels on a navy base in Iskenderun, in Hatay.

Last week, the rebels also claimed responsibility for a remote-control roadside bomb that hit a bus carrying army personnel in Istanbul, killing five soldiers and the teenage daughter of an officer.

The PKK threatened to spread violence to urban areas after a wave of deadly attacks on the security forces in remote regions in the southeast.

The group took up arms against Ankara in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed around 45,000 lives.

Bureau Report