Five Soldiers, 30 Militants Killed in Southeast Turkey

DIYARBAKIR (Reuters) -

Five Turkish soldiers and 30 Kurdish militants have been killed in the past 24 hours in attacks and clashes across Turkey’s turbulent southeast region, security sources and the army said on Tuesday.

An estimated 57 people, including eight civilians, were wounded in the attacks, they said.

Thousands of militants and hundreds of civilians and soldiers have been killed since the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) resumed its insurgency last summer, wrecking a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire and peace process.

The government has ruled out any return to the negotiating table and has vowed to crush the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

The security sources said operations in Sirnak province neighboring Iraq and Syria had been stepped up and that gunfire and explosions could be heard in the area where earlier one soldier was killed and three others wounded.

A soldier was also killed and four wounded in an explosion in Daglica, a village in Hakkari province near the Iranian border, during clashes with the PKK, the army said.

A third soldier was killed in an explosion in the border town of Nusaybin near Syria as troops entered a building during security operations. Three other soldiers were wounded with one in serious condition, the security sources said.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu put the death toll from a car bomb attack overnight that targeted a Turkish gendarmerie base in the town of Hani at two. The army said 47 people, including eight civilians, had been wounded in that attack.

A large vehicle laden with explosives rammed into the gendarmes’ base and the dormitory housing the families of security personnel, shattering windows and wrecking the roofs of buildings.

Following the attack, Turkish gendarmerie and special forces launched an operation with air support in the town center and the countryside around Hani, which is north of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

Witnesses said vehicles, houses and shops nearby had been damaged by the powerful blast in Hani. Six of the wounded civilians were relatives of the soldiers, the military said.

The military said 30 Kurdish militants had been killed on Monday in clashes in four southeastern towns that are currently under military curfew and are located near Turkey’s borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the PKK took up arms in 1984.