Turkish military says forces kill 49 Kurdish militants

Offensive in Iraq border region comes after deaths of 24 Turkish soldiers at hands of PKK guerrillas; military says operation ongoing.

By REUTERS
October 22, 2011 17:35
1 minute read.
Turkish President Gul arrives in southeast Turkey

Turkey Iraq border region 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

ISTANBUL - Turkish troops have killed 49 Kurdish militants in the southeast of the country over the last two days, the military said on Saturday, in an offensive to avenge the deaths of 24 soldiers this week.

The militants were killed in Cukurca Kazan valley, in Hakkari province, the armed forces said on its web site, adding that operations on either side of the border with Iraq were continuing, supported by air strikes.

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Turkey's leaders have vowed revenge after one of the worst losses of life suffered by the army since the separatist insurgency began in 1984, when PKK guerrillas mounted a series of deadly night-time raids on army outposts in the mountainous southeast on Wednesday.

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Ankara's reaction has ignited speculation that Turkey could move to a full blown incursion to clear out PKK camps deeper inside northern Iraq.

Earlier on Saturday state-run TRT television reported a total of 53 Kurdish militants have been killed so far in the operation, without citing a source.

Turkish security officials estimated earlier in the week that their forces, numbering about 1,000 inside Iraq, had killed 21 fighters from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).

The military said it had deployed troops from 22 battalions for ground attacks in five different areas on either side of the Iraqi border, and it had also launched air strikes.


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