At least 15 Turkish soldiers have been killed in a clash with Kurdish
rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party. or PKK. The clash occurred on
the Turkish Iraqi border late Friday night. The Turkish state has been
fighting the PKK for more than 20 years. This latest clash, as Dorian
Jones reports from Istanbul for VOA, is the most serious in recent months.
statement by the Turkish armed forces says 15 of its soldiers were
killed in an attack on a military outpost near the Iraqi border. The
attack is being blamed on Kurdish rebels of the Kurdistan workers
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is visiting
Turkmenistan gave more details of the attack. Erdogan said he was
saddened to learn that 15 soldiers were killed and 20 others were
wounded in an assault by the PKK terrorists. He said two soldiers were
missing and 23 members of the PKK were killed during the attack.
attack, according to Turkish media reports, lasted several hours and
involved scores of PKK rebels using heavy weapons. It is the most
serious attack by the PKK since last year. More than 20 members of the
PKK were also killed in the fighting.
The same outpost was the
target of another attack in May. Clashes between the PKK and the
Turkish state have intensified in the last few weeks, as PKK members
attempt to cross back to their bases in neighboring northern Iraq ahead
of winter. Ankara accuses the PKK of using Iraq as a base to launch
attacks against its forces. Prime Minister Erdogan promises a firm
Erdogan said as the political authority, they shared
the same determinism displayed by the security forces. He said they
would reassess counter-terrorist measures and continue the fight
against terrorist organization PKK with determinism.
the prime minister asked the Turkish parliament to extend a year long
authorization for the Turkish military to launch attacks into Iraq
against PKK bases, a vote is expected in the coming weeks. The Turkish
air force regularly carry out air strikes against the rebels in Iraq,
the most recent being last week. Last February Turkish soldiers entered
Iraq in a eight-day long incursion.
Despite such operations,
retired Turkish general Haldun Solmazturk says the PKK still remains a
serious threat. "They have the ability, the day factor ability, to
practically ambush Turkish units inside Turkey," he said. "And they
have the ability to attack military outposts, presumably
well-prepared, well-armed, well-equipped."
The PKK have been
fighting the Turkish state, for Kurdish autonomy since 1984. The
Turkish government is due to meet with the heads of the armed forces to
discuss their reaction to this latest attack. Analysts say they will be
under intense public pressure for a firm response.