DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - A Turkish soldier and two Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants were killed in a spate of attacks in Turkey’s southeast, security sources said on Friday.
The soldier was killed after a mine laid by militants was detonated remotely in the eastern province of Bingol, the provincial governor’s office said. Two PKK fighters were killed during an operation in response to the attack.
In a separate incident, youths linked to the outlawed PKK opened fire with rifles at a police vehicle in the town of Nusaybin bordering Syria early on Friday, wounding two policemen, security sources said.
Violence has surged in Turkey’s southeast over the last month, with the PKK launching attacks against security forces and Ankara carrying out air strikes on PKK camps in northern Iraq in what it called a “synchronized war on terror”.
The military campaign, planned to also hit Islamic State militants in northern Syria, has so far focused on the PKK, raising suspicions among Kurds that its aim is to check Kurdish territorial ambitions rather than to crush the Islamists.
Earlier this week, Turkish warplanes pounded 17 targets in the border province of Hakkari as part of the crackdown on the PKK, which has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a police station in Istanbul.
The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, has fought a three-decade insurgency with the state in which more than 40,000 people have died. A peace process has been effectively shelved due to the violence.
Speaking overnight in his ancestral hometown in northeast Turkey’s Rize province, President Tayyip Erdogan said operations against militants were not temporary and would continue.
“Those who support them and lead them will be defeated sooner or later,” he told a crowd in the town of Guneysu, his wife at his side.
“Don’t dare think they are strong ... They are condemned to fall ... There are terrorist groups behind them, whereas behind us there is God, there are the people.”
Turkish security forces rounded up more than 2,000 people as part of the crackdown in raids against Islamists and Kurdish militants last month. On Friday, police detained at least 34 people in raids, Turkey’s Yeni Safak daily reported.
Additional reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Digby Lidstone