Middle East

Turkish warplanes target Kurdish militants, at least 27 killed: army

Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey and the army killed 27 fighters near its borders with Iraq and Iran, the armed forces said on Sunday.

Conflict in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast has been at its most intense level in two decades since a two-year-old ceasefire by the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) collapsed last July.

Air strikes on Saturday destroyed gun positions and shelters and caves used by PKK fighters in the Gara area of northern Iraq and the countryside of Lice district in Diyarbakir province, the military statement said.

It did not give a death toll but state-run Anadolu Agency cited security sources as saying small groups of PKK militants were killed in those strikes.

Seven PKK militants were killed in a clash in Semdinli near the Iraqi and Iranian borders on Saturday, while air strikes in Semdinli on Friday killed 20 PKK fighters, the army said.

PKK guerrillas also launched an attack on a military outpost in Sirnak province overnight and in the ensuing clash one PKK fighter was killed along with a member of the state's 'village guard' militia, security sources said.

In northeast Turkey's Gumushane province, not usually an area of conflict, two soldiers were wounded when their military vehicle came under fire in a gun attack, local authorities said. Media reports said one of the soldiers subsequently died. It was not clear if the attack was related to the Kurdish conflict.

The air strikes in Lice were conducted after the Diyarbakir governor's office declared a curfew there on Saturday. It said the curfew was lifted on Sunday morning after the completion of military operations there.

Turkish security forces on Friday concluded operations targeting PKK fighters in the town of Nusaybin near the Syrian border and in Sirnak near the border with Iraq.

More than 1,000 people, mostly PKK fighters, were killed in three months of clashes in those areas, security sources say.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies, launched its insurgency in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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