Turkish air strikes kill 13 Kurdish militants

Fri Nov 9, 2012 3:44am EST
 

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish air force jets and attack helicopters pounded Kurdish militants along the border with Iraq on Thursday, killing 13, the local governor's office and security sources said on Friday.

The attack was launched after a drone identified a group of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants on the second day of operations in Turkey's southeastern province of Hakkari, bordering Iraq and Iran, the Hakkari governor's office said.

Following a tip-off, one PKK fighter was also killed in a clash on the Habesti plateau on Thursday, the statement said. One Turkish soldier was killed in subsequent clashes.

There was an upsurge in PKK attacks in southeast Turkey during the summer, notably in the Hakkari region.

Ankara has linked the increased violence to the chaos in neighboring Syria, accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of resuming support for the PKK and arming the militants.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between Turkey and the PKK, which launched its insurgency in 1984 with the aim of carving out a separate state in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.

The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Alistair Lyon)