SIRNAK, Turkey’s Kurdish region,— Three soldiers were killed and another wounded on Tuesday in the Turkey’s southeast Kurdish region when a mine exploded in the latest attack on security forces blamed on militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Kurdish militants detonated a remote-controlled mine as a military convoy passed by in the Kurdish Arakoy region of Sirnak province in Turkish Kurdistan bordering Iraq and Syria, security sources told AFP.
The explosion triggered clashes between Turkish soldiers and PKK rebels, they said, confirming a report by the official Anatolia news agency.
The initial toll stood at two but one of the two injured died in hospital, bringing the number of dead to three.
The attack was blamed on the PKK, which has stepped up its strikes on the security forces in the last two weeks, as Turkish warplanes bomb its positions in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The spiral of violence sparked by the killing of 32 pro-Kurdish activists last month in a town on the Syrian Kurdistan border by suspected Islamic State militants has left a 2013 ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK in tatters.
According to an AFP toll, 20 members of the Turkish security forces have been killed in attacks blamed on the PKK since the current crisis began.
Meanwhile, an explosion hit a natural gas pipeline transporting gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey in the eastern province of Kars, the Anatolia news agency said.
There was no immediate claim but the PKK have repeatedly targeted energy infrastructure in Turkey in the past.
Turkish warplanes have for over a week carried out hundreds of sorties over Iraqi Kurdistan, with official media claiming that that they have caused significant damage to PKK infrastructure and killed some 260 militants.
Ankara is waging a two-pronged cross-border “anti-terror” bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and PKK rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan. But so far the raids have overwhelmingly targeted the Kurdish rebels.
Ten Turkish F-16s strafed PKK targets in Iraqi Kurdistan, including its Qandil Mountain headquarters, for around three hours.
On Sunday, two Turkish soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in a suicide bombing by a PKK militant in the east of the country, the first time the group has used the tactic in the current escalation.
The PKK confirmed Monday the attack was carried out by one of its guerrillas with the nom de guerre of Andok Eris.
It said the attack was a reprisal for a Turkish air raid that pro-Kurdish media said killed several civilians on Saturday morning but the army insisted targeted “terrorist” infrastructure.
Since it was established in 1984 the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, with the aim of creating an independent Kurdish state in Turkish Kurdistan region in the southeast of the country.
But now limited its demands to to establish an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds, who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 75-million population but have long been denied basic political and cultural rights, its goal to political autonomy. A large Turkey’s Kurdish community openly sympathise with PKK rebels.
The PKK is considered as ‘terrorist’ organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union’s terror list.
also published on Ekurd