Friday 25 May 2018

Airstrikes on Kurdish rebel targets in south-east Turkey

Five police officers were killed on Monday following a number of attacks in Turkey
Five police officers were killed on Monday following a number of attacks in Turkey

Warplanes have struck Kurdish rebel targets in a series of raids in south-east Turkey, a day after heavy violence in the country left at least nine dead.

The Turkish military said jets hit 17 targets of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, around the Buzul mountain and the Ikiyaka region in Hakkari province, which borders Iran and Iraq, and later also targeted two anti-aircraft guns in the neighbouring province of Sirnak, along the Iraqi border.

In further violence, Kurdish rebels attacked an infantry brigade command post in Sirnak, seriously wounding a soldier who later died in a hospital.

On Monday, nine people, including five police officers, were killed in separate attacks in Istanbul and in the south-eastern Sirnak province which were blamed on the PKK.

The group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for bombing the police station and a subsequent attack on police officers inspecting the scene, according to the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency. It said the attack was carried out in honour of a PKK fighter killed in a Turkish airstrike in northern Iraq.

Turkey has seen a sharp spike in clashes between security forces and Kurdish rebels in recent weeks. More than 50 people, mostly police and soldiers, have died during the renewed violence that has wrecked an already fragile peace process with the Kurds.

Turkish warplanes have raided PKK targets in Iraq and in south-east Turkey in tandem with airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria since late July. The main focus of the raids however, has been the PKK.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey's battle against the PKK would continue until the group disarms.

"We shall continue our struggle until the terror organisation ceases to be a threat, until the arms are laid and buried ... until not a single armed terrorist remains within our borders," Mr Erdogan said.

Mr Erdogan also said Turkey made no distinctions between terror groups, in an apparent response to claims that the government had concentrated efforts on battling the PKK, shifting away from combating Islamic State (IS).

The PKK has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in south-east Turkey. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.

Also on Tuesday, the US consulate in Istanbul reopened for business, a day after two women opened fire at the heavily protected building.

No-one was hurt in the attack which was claimed by an outlawed far-left group. Both assailants fled; one suspect was later shot and taken into custody.

Press Association

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