ANKARA, October 24 – Twenty-five Kurdish rebels were killed and a number were wounded in a Turkish air strike last week targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) hideouts in northern Iraq, an army spokesman said Friday.,
The army received "corroborating reports from various intelligence sources that 25 terrorists were neutralised in the October 17 air raid," General Metin Gurak, the head of the general staff’s press department, told a news conference here.
Many rebels were also wounded in the strike targeting the mountainous region of Qandil, a major PKK stronghold near the border between Iraq and Turkey, added Gurak, who offered no estimates on the number of wounded.
A news agency close to the rebels had claimed at the time that four militants, members of an Iranian Kurdish separatist organisation linked to the PKK, had been killed in the raid.
A further 17 PKK rebels were killed in security operations inside Turkey in the past week, Gurak said.
Violence in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast has escalated after an October 3 PKK attack on a Turkish military outpost on the Iraqi border which killed 17 soldiers.
Since then, Turkish planes have launched several attacks on rebel bases in northern Iraq.
Earlier this month, Turkey’s parliament also extended by one year the government’s mandate to order cross-border military strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq, which has been in effect since October 17, 2007.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in the southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 44,000 lives.
Turkish officials estimate about 2,000 PKK rebels are holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq, where they allegedly enjoy free movement and obtain weapons and explosives for attacks in Turkey.