Europe

Turkey vows to 'wipe out' PKK rebels after bomb attack

People look at a destroyed armoured vehicle in Daglica, south-eastern Turkey. Photo: 7 September 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Turkish army said 16 of its soldiers were killed and another six injured in the attack

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has pledged to "wipe out" Kurdish PKK rebels in their strongholds after a deadly bomb attack on the Turkish army.

"The mountains of this country, the plains, highlands, cities will be not abandoned to terrorists," he said.

At least 16 Turkish soldiers died in Sunday's attack in the south-eastern Hakkari province, the army said.

In retaliation, Turkey carried out several air strikes on PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) targets on Monday.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Mr Davutoglu said: "You cannot discourage us from our war on terror. Those mountains will be cleared of these terrorists. Whatever it takes, they will be cleared."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier said he was saddened by the attack and promised a "decisive" response.

"The pain of our security forces who were martyred in the treacherous attack by the separatist terrorist organisation sears our hearts," he said.

There has been a surge in violence between the army and the PKK after a ceasefire collapsed in July.

The PKK said it was behind the attack. Initially it said 15 soldiers had been killed, but later raised the figure to 31.

But the Turkish army said on Monday that 16 soldiers died, while six were injured.

The army said bombs had been detonated near two military vehicles in the village of Daglica on Sunday evening.

The area is close to the border with Iraq.

'Self-rule'

After President Erdogan's comments, about 200 people chanting slogans in his support attacked the offices of Turkish newspaper Hurriyet in Istanbul.

They accused the news organisation of misquoting Mr Erdogan and implying that he was trying to gain political capital from the Daglica attack.

Hurriyet has attracted criticism from pro-government circles over its coverage of the conflict between Turkey's government and the PKK.

The government says military operations against the Kurdish rebel group will continue until it withdraws from Turkish soil and disarms.

Curfews have been imposed in several towns where clashes take place and over a hundred districts have been declared "temporary security zones".

In response, several municipalities in the predominantly Kurdish east and south-east of Turkey have announced "self-rule".

Critics accuse President Erdogan of renewing violence to curb the support for the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), whose 14% share of the vote in June elections cost the governing AKP its majority in parliament.

The government denies these accusations. Many people fear the clashes will mount as snap elections scheduled for November draw closer.

More than 40,000 people have died since the PKK launched its armed campaign in 1984.

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