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Turkey Troops, Kurdish Rebels Clash Near Iraq Border


Turkish military planes have launched air raids against suspected Kurdish rebel positions inside northern Iraq after clashes between soldiers and militants killed at least 20 people.

Turkish military officials say the unrest began early Saturday when militants with the Kurdistan Worker's Party, known as PKK, launched an attack on an army outpost near Semdinli, a town close to the Iraqi border.

The military says at least eight soldiers and 12 rebels died in the clashes.

The military says a land mine explosion killed two other soldiers who were involved in an operation to capture Kurdish rebels in the region.

Turkish officials say warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq in response to the attack. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the fight against the PKK would continue until the "terrorist organization" had been eliminated.

The PKK is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey, and recently ended a year-long cease-fire because of what it called repeated Turkish military attacks.

Ankara and much of the international community, including the United States and European Union, consider the PKK a terrorist group.

A Turkish military official said Friday air raids on hideouts in northern Iraq killed at least 100 members of the the PKK on March 20. He said another 30 PKK militants were killed in more recent clashes inside Turkey.

He said 43 Turkish troops have been killed.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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