20 Kurd rebels, 2 Turkish troops die

From Reuters

Military sources said that at least 20 Kurdish separatists and two Turkish soldiers were killed after militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, attacked a military base in southeastern Turkey on Friday.

Turkish warplanes bombed rural areas along the border with Iraq after about 50 PKK members coming from northern Iraq attacked a station near the border, killing two soldiers.

The bombing killed 20 militants, the military sources said. No further details were available.

Earlier in the day three people were killed and a dozen injured in a series of land-mine explosions that also were blamed on Kurdish separatists.

The three mines, set off by remote control, were in the southeastern provinces of Siirt, Batman and Bingol, said security sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The violence came amid a military operation, backed by attack helicopters, tanks and artillery, against PKK guerrillas in mountainous parts of southeastern Turkey.

Amid widespread public anger over PKK attacks, Turkey has sent tens of thousands of troops to the border region.

Dozens of Turkish F-16 warplanes have also gone on bombing raids against suspected PKK positions inside Iraq.

President Abdullah Gul said Friday that the military's latest airstrikes against the rebels in northern Iraq were among the most significant blows yet against the separatist movement.

Turkey blames the separatist movement for nearly 40,000 deaths since the 1984 start of the rebels' campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey.

Washington regards the PKK as a terrorist group.

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