Istanbul: The Turkish army on Sunday blamed PKK militants for a deadly car bomb attack that killed two of its soldiers in the Kurdish-dominated southeast, as a fragile truce risked collapsing after Ankara's air strikes on rebel positions in Iraq.
Turkey has launched a two-pronged "anti-terror" cross-border offensive against Islamic State (IS) jihadists and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants after a wave of violence in the country, pounding their positions with air strikes and artillery.
But the expansion of the campaign to include not just IS targets in Syria but PKK rebels in neighbouring northern Iraq -- themselves bitterly opposed to the jihadists -- has put in jeopardy a truce with the Kurdish militants that has largely held since 2013.
The PKK yesterday said that the conditions were no longer in place to observe the ceasefire, following the heaviest Turkish air strikes on its positions in northern Iraq since August 2011.
The car bomb went off as the soldiers were travelling on a road in the Lice district of Diyarbakir province late yesterday, the statement from the local governor's office said.
"Two of our personnel were killed in the heinous attack, four were wounded," it said.
The army blamed the "Separatist Terror Organisation" for the attack, using its customary phrase for the PKK which it never refers to by name.
It said the victims had been lured to the site of the attack after the PKK set three vehicles on fire on the road linking the cities of Diyarbakir and Bingol.
The PKK's military wing, the People's Defence Forces (HPG), claimed the attack in a statement on its website but gave much higher toll of eight soldiers killed.
The PKK has for decades waged a deadly insurgency in the southeast of Turkey for self-rule, a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. A peace process that began in 2013 has so far failed to yield a final deal.
"The ceasefire appears to be over," Middle East specialist David Romano of Missouri State University said in emailed comments, arguing that the main focus of the Turkish military campaign was the PKK rather than IS.
Turkish armed forces had Saturday pressed on with a new wave of strikes against IS and PKK targets, but there were no reports of new air raids overnight.