The Kurdish militant group PKK says it has killed 15 Turkish soldiers in an attack on a convoy of armored vehicles in southeast Turkey. If confirmed, it would be the bloodiest assault since a ceasefire collapsed in July.
The number of casualties could not be independently verified, but in a televised statement Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed an attack had taken place in Hakkari province, near Turkey's border with Iran and Iraq.
"A mine attack has been staged. There will be a very particular and decisive fight there. We are very sad," Erdogan told the A-Haber channel.
NTV television said militants staged a mine attack on two military vehicles in a convoy in the Daglica district of Hakkari, a known stronghold of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The PKK said it had killed 15 Turkish soldiers in the attack.
The ambush comes amid almost daily violence between the PKK and Turkish armed forces, but if that casualty toll is confirmed, it would be the most severe attack since a ceasefire was broken between Ankara and the militant group this summer.
The PKK attacks are in response to a government offensive against the group in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq. More than 50 members of the security forces have been killed this year in attacks blamed on the PKK, but the government has pledged to keep up its airstrikes.
The Turkish government has said it has killed more than 800 PKK members this year.
The insurgency against the government in Ankara has been going on for more than three decades. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in the PKK's attempt to win more rights for Turkey's Kurdish minority.
Peace process on the brink
The fighting has put a sudden end to a fragile ceasefire in place since 2013.
Although neither side has officially declared an end to the peace process, there are concerns that much of the violence stems from Kurdish youth groups and factions that are acting independently.
The growing violence comes at an awkward time for the country, with Turkey facing a snap election in November, after the AKP lost its majority for the first time in a decade at elections in June.
glb/se (Reuters, AFP)