Ten soldiers were killed and 60 were injured today after a Turkish military convoy transporting unarmed soldiers returning from leave was hit by a rocket before coming under fire in an ambush conducted by suspected militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in eastern Turkey.
Some 200 soldiers who had returned from sick or home leave were being transported to their respective military units with a convoy of 5 buses, with 10 armored vehicles escorting the transports. The traveling soldiers were unarmed and in civilian clothing, Bingöl Gov. Mustafa Hakan Güvençer said. The convoy was traveling on the road between Bingöl and Muş when a bus in the convoy was hit by a rocket at around 12:45 p.m. Militants hiding on the side of the road opened fire on the vehicles with assault rifles, prompting a firefight with soldiers guarding the convoy. The bus which was hit by the rocket caught on fire; soldiers trapped inside the vehicle escaped through the smashed windows as clashes erupted.
Güvençer said bus in the convoy burst into flames after the attack, adding that the explosion was caused by rocket hitting the vehicle. “Seven soldiers were killed and 63 were injured,” he said. Eight of the injured soldiers were in “critical condition,” Güvençer said initially and added that four of them were sent to a hospital in Elazığ with ambulance aircraft.
Broadcaster CNNTürk later reported three of the injured soldiers succumbed to their injuries, bringing the toll to 10 dead.
A village guard who was on the scene told Doğan news agency that he went up to the blast zone right after the attack. “There were no explosives planted in the ground. They launched two rockets from a hill, hitting one of the vehicles. It went up in a ball of fire,” he was quoted as saying.
The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.