Nine Turkish soldiers killed in car bombing
Nine Turkish soldiers were killed and 11 others wounded on Sunday in a car bomb attack in the restive southeast which was blamed on Kurdish militants, state media reported.
The attack took place in Hakkari province close to the border with Iraq and Iran, the official news agency Anadolu reported.
Dogan news agency said militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were responsible for the attack which hit a security post in Semdinli district.
Security forces had been conducting vehicle searches when the bomb exploded, it said.
The blast left a gaping hole in the road which was 10-15 metres wide (33-49 foot) and up to seven metres (22 foot) deep, Anadolu reported. It also caused major damage to the main gate of the security post.
Soon after the attack, the military confirmed it had begun a large-scale air operation.
Over the past two months, the military says it has killed a total of 387 PKK militants in Hakkari province, CNN-Turk reported.
The PKK has waged a 32-year insurgency against the Turkish state, which has left nearly 40,000 dead since 1984. The group is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Since the collapse of a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire in July 2015, more than 600 security forces and over 7,000 PKK militants have been killed, according to Anadolu.
Over the past 15 months, attacks on the Turkish security forces have continued on an almost daily basis as the government has pressed military operations against the PKK to rid urban areas of fighters.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus described Sunday’s attack as an “atrocious” and “terrorist attack”, vowing on Twitter that Turkey would never surrender to militant groups.
Following the blast, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) issued a temporary ban on images from the scene and of the victims, it said on its website.
The bombing comes a day after two suspects believed to have been preparing a car bomb attack blew themselves up on the outskirts of Ankara when police ordered them to surrender.
Turkish officials said they believed the two were linked to the PKK.