373 PKK militants killed in five months: Turkish army
ANKARA - Agence France- Presse
Clashes between Turkish soldiers and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have killed 461 people this year in almost 1,000 operations in the country's southeast, the military was quoted as saying by local media today.
Some 373 PKK militants were killed in operations carried out over five months, and 88 Turkish soldiers in the last nine months, the army was quoted as saying by the private NTV television network. Fifty-four of the killed soldiers were professional fighters, while 34 were conscripts.
The army has staged 974 operations over the last six months to drive out the PKK, which often stages ambushes against Turkish forces in the Kurdish-majority southeast, according to NTV.
In recent months Ankara has staged several offensives involving thousands of ground troops backed by helicopter gunships and F-16 fighters jets to crush a spike in PKK assaults.
Turkish army operations target PKK hideouts inside the country as well as across the border with Iraq, where authorities claim militants are holed up to launch strikes inside Turkey.
Some government officials believe Syria's embattled regime is helping the PKK in retaliation for Turkey's support for rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.