Ankara has vowed to “pay any price” to defeat the PKK, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, after a recent upsurge in violence. At least 12 soldiers and more than 30 Kurdish militants were killed yesterday in some of the worst fighting in years. Civilians have also been caught up in the violence. A landmine killed one person and injured at least 13 others who were travelling in a minibus near to where the soldiers were killed.
An estimated 3,000 PKK rebels are believed to be based in camps in the mountainous region of Northern Iraq, bordering south-eastern Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held crisis talks with army chiefs. But despite the strongly-worded statement, there was no indication that an incursion into Northern Iraq was imminent. Erdogan did confirm the US had asked him to hold off from imminent action.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani urged the PKK to make itself politically accountable: “We appeal to the PKK to stop fighting and transform from a military organisation into a civilian and political one. But if they insist on continuing fighting they have to leave Iraq’s Kurdistan and not cause us problems by returning back to their countries to do whatever they want there.”
Thousands of angry protestors took to the streets in several Turkish cities to denounce the attacks by Kurdish rebels. There were clashes in Erzurum as police tried to prevent demonstrators from entering a Kurdish neighbourhood.