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Kurdish rebels kill 7 Turkish soldiers

Kurdish rebels killed six Turkish soldiers and wounded 15 in an overnight raid Tuesday on a military outpost along the border with Iraq.



Istanbul: Kurdish rebels killed six Turkish
soldiers and wounded 15 in an overnight raid Tuesday on a
military outpost along the border with Iraq, indicating the
resiliency of their low-level insurgency and the failure of
efforts to reach a peace accord. Another soldier died in a
separate attack.

Troops backed by helicopter gunships surged into the
mountainous area after the attack, even as Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged that military action alone
would not end a 26-year conflict rooted in the grievances of
Turkey`s Kurdish minority.

"There is no magic wand," Erdogan said in a weekly
address in Parliament. "If we look at it as merely a question
of security, we would be wrong. We have done so for years. The
results are clear. But this issue has sociological,
psychological, diplomatic and many other aspects."

According to the prime minister and Anatolia news agency,
rebels from the Kurdistan Workers` Party, known by its Kurdish
acronym PKK, fired rockets and other weapons at the unit at
around 2 am. At least one rebel was killed, and clashes were
underway later in the day.

The fighting happened near the town of Cukurca in Hakkari
province in southeast Turkey, a frequent site of attacks by
PKK militants who slip across an Iraqi border that is
difficult to police because of its remote and rugged
landscape.

In a separate attack today, suspected rebels fired on a
military vehicle near the town of Gurpinar in Van province,
north of Cukurca, DHA news agency reported. One soldier died,
and the attackers fled.

Labeled terrorists by Turkey and the West, the rebels
have accelerated operations since June, declaring that the
government was not sincere about seeking peace. Erdogan`s
government has tried to improve the lot of Turkish Kurds, who
comprise up to 20 per cent of Turkey`s population of more than
70 million. It allowed Kurdish-language television broadcasts
and other rights aimed at blunting rebel calls for more
autonomy in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

However, the return last year of a group of PKK rebels
from Iraq to Turkey in what was supposed to be a
reconciliation gesture turned sour. The rebels cast it as a
victory celebration, infuriating Turks and sapping support for
government initiatives.

PTI

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