Two soldiers have been killed in south-east Turkey in a car bomb attack on a military vehicle blamed on Kurdish rebels, authorities said today.
Four others were injured in the incident, which occurred a day after Turkey launched airstrikes against Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq.
The Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has said the airstrikes likely spelled the end of a ceasefire announced in 2013.
Turkey has simultaneously bombed so-called Islamic State (IS) positions near the Turkish border in Syria and carried out widespread police operations against suspected Kurdish and IS militants and other outlawed groups inside Turkey. Hundreds of people have been detained.
The private Dogan news agency said that Turkish artillery based near the south-eastern border town of Semdinli shelled PKK targets across the frontier in northern Iraq for three hours early today. There was no official confirmation of the report.
The car bomb exploded yesterday on a road in the town of Lice as a vehicle carrying military police officers was travelling to intervene against Kurds who had blocked a main intersection and set cars on fire, said the governor’s office in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish province.
The military said the PKK militants also detonated a roadside bomb and fired on the troops in the attack it called a “treacherously pre-planned” ambush. The military statement said a large-scale operation was under way to capture the attackers.
Assailants also opened fire at police stations in the south-eastern cities of Diyarbakir, Siirt and Mardin, Turkish media reported. No-one was injured in the attacks.
The PKK has fought Turkey for autonomy for Kurds in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.
Turkish fighter jets struck Kurdish rebel shelters and storage facilities across the border yesterday in northern Iraq, its first such strikes since the peace process with the Kurds was launched in 2012. A ceasefire was announced the following year.
Tensions have been flaring with the Kurds in recent days following an IS suicide bombing in a town near the border with Syria.
Kurdish groups have blamed the government for not doing enough to prevent IS operations and on Wednesday the PKK claimed responsibility for the killing of two policemen in the Kurdish majority city of Sanliurfa.