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Three dead in 'PKK attack'

August 4, 2015

Kurdish militants have been blamed for an attack that killed three Turkish soldiers when a roadside bomb exploded. The latest deaths continue a spiral of violence between the militants and the Turkish military.

Türkische Soldaten bei Diyarbakir
Image: Getty Images/AFP/I. Akengin

Rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are accused of being behind Tuesday's attack in which a remote-controlled mine was detonated as a military convoy passed by in a Turkish region bordering Iraq and Syria. Militants opened fire on soldiers after the mine went off, security sources said.

The explosion in the Arakoy region of Sirnak province triggered clashes between Turkish soldiers and PKK rebels, they said.

The attack was blamed on the PKK, which has stepped up its strikes on Turkish security forces in the last two weeks after announcing it was increasing attacks in mid-July over what it said were ceasefire violations.

Hostilities have flared since Turkey began its air campaign on PKK camps in northern Iraq on July 24, in what Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called a "synchronized fight against terror."

Turkey carried out airstrikes last month against Islamic State jihadist fighters across its southern border with Syria while also launching extensive bombing raids against the PKK inside Turkey and in northern Iraq.

The move against IS was widely welcomed as part of international efforts to counter the jihadi group, but the attacks on the PKK raised wide concerns that Turkey was using attacks on IS as a cover for a push against the Kurds, its real target.

EU urges Turkey to be 'proportionate' in its response

The EU urged the Turkish government on Tuesday to react to the attack in a "proportionate" manner, saying it was deeply concerned following recent bloody clashes between Turkey and Kurdish militants.

A faltering peace process was launched in 2012 to end the three-decade Kurdish insurgency, which has left an estimated 40,000 people dead. The peace process was, however, called off by Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan late last month.

EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn told Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkir that "the EU acknowledges that Turkey has the right to prevent and react to any form of terrorism, which must be unequivocally condemned.

"The response, however, must be proportionate, targeted and by no means endanger the democratic political dialogue in the country," Hahn said.

Turkey is a long-standing candidate for EU membership, beginning so-called accession talks in 2005, but the process has been bogged down for years over its human rights record.

mh/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)