Dozens killed as PKK escalates war on Turkish army

Photo credit: AA

Nearly 50 people were killed in the past three days of fighting, according to Turkish state figures, as the war with the PKK continues unabated in southeastern Turkey.

The latest news of casualty came from Semdinli district of Hakkari on the Iraqi border, where a roadside explosive killed at least four Turkish troops and injured another, the Turkish army said in a statement on Sunday.

The roadside bomb was detonated while an army convoy was passing through the area called Aktutun. The bombing attack in Hakkari comes a day after two separate attacks in Van and Mardin provinces, both hotspots for the PKK violence.

In Van, an eastern province, a car bombing attack killed a Turkish soldier and a village guard on Saturday, while injuring ten soldiers and five village guards. The army said in a statement that the health situation of one of the soldiers remain life-threatening.

In Mardin, PKK rebels carried out a car bomb attack on a military outpost in Cevizlik village and engaged in a firefight in the aftermath of the bombing, killing two soldiers and a civilian. At least 23 Turkish soldiers, 14 civilians and one village guard were injured during the attacks.

Firat news agency, a PKK mouthpiece, claimed that a mortar shell fired by the Turkish army hit a civilian car in Cukurca district of Hakkari and killed two people, including a minor. The army’s web-site, which announces its daily activities, did not include civilians allegedly killed in Cukurca.

The news agency also did not give a death toll for Mardin, Van and Hakkari attacks, only claiming that “many Turkish soldiers” were killed in the attacks.

Observers speculate that the rise of PKK attacks is an indication that the rebel group is fast losing blood. The Turkish fighter jets almost daily pound PKK targets both in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. The army said it killed at least 38 PKK militants, including a female fighter, since Friday. On Sunday, the state-run Anadolu published a footage of Turkish air strikes on a hilltop that allegedly killed 17 PKK militants.

The multiple PKK attacks over the weekend will undoubtedly prompt the Turkish army to escalate its bombing campaign against the rebel group targets in a war that has already left at least 40,000 dead since late 1980s.

The latest bout of fighting resumed last summer following 2.5 years of fragile truce, which, according to the Turkish government, helped the PKK stock weapons and replenish its resources. The latest round of violence has killed at least 700 Turkish soldiers and nearly 6,900 PKK militants, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Rights group claim that several hundred civilians were caught in the crossfire and tens of thousands of civilians were forced to flee the war-torn districts.

In Warsaw, Erdogan attended a NATO summit on Saturday and promised to push the alliance to help Turkey deal with its “terrorism problem.” The PKK is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the EU and the US.

In a separate development, Turkish-state run Anadolu news agency cited Tel Khamis Brigades, a Syrian rebel group, as claiming that they assassinated senior PKK commander Fehman Huseyin, also known as Bahoz Erdal. PKK denied the report of Huseyin’s death.

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