(photo credit: Associated Press)
Turkey will launch its first intelligence gathering satellite in 2012, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
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Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced the plans while speaking to his party live on Turkish television.
“We will launch the Gokturk intelligence satellite in 2012,” he said.
The news agency said that the satellite, said to be worth almost $350 million, is intended to reduce Turkish reliance on US intelligence, particularly in conflicts against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).The
PKK has staged hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets — mostly from
bases in northern Iraq — in their decades-long campaign for autonomy in
Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast. Tens of thousands of people have
been killed in the fighting.The group is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
The report added that the satellite would also be used to crack down on
human trafficking in the country, and to deal with narcotics smuggling.AP contributed to this report.