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7 Civilians Reported Dead in Turkish Airstrikes on PKK Hideouts

Kurdish officials say Turkish airstrikes aimed at Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq killed seven civilians on Sunday, in a fifth straight day of cross-border strikes on suspected separatist hideouts.

The deaths are the first reported casualties since Turkish warplanes began bombing rebel positions Wednesday near the Turkey-Iraq border.

Analysts link the strikes to a surge in attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, against Turkish military targets near the border. The Turkish strikes were launched after PKK fighters ambushed a Turkish military convoy, killing at least eight soldiers.

Early last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara's patience with the rebels is running out. The rebels have fought a campaign for regional autonomy in Turkey's Kurdish southeast since 1984.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organization.