PKK hits unarmed soldiers returning from leave: 10 killed, 70 injured
AA photoTen soldiers were killed and 70 were injured today after a Turkish military convoy transporting unarmed soldiers returning from leave was hit by a rocket before coming under fire in an ambush conducted by suspected militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in eastern Turkey.
Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz said 56 of the injured were taken to hospitals in Bingöl, while 8 were hospitalized in Muş, four in Elazığ and two in Erzurum.
Some 200 soldiers who had returned from sick or home leave were being transported to their respective military units with a convoy of 5 buses, with 10 armored vehicles escorting the transports. The traveling soldiers were unarmed and in civilian clothing, Bingöl Gov. Mustafa Hakan Güvençer said.
The convoy was traveling on the road between Bingöl and Muş when a bus in the convoy was hit by a rocket at around 12:45 p.m. Militants hiding on the side of the road opened fire on the vehicles with assault rifles, prompting a firefight with soldiers guarding the convoy.
The bus which was hit by the rocket caught on fire; soldiers trapped inside the vehicle escaped through the smashed windows as clashes erupted.
Güvençer said bus in the convoy burst into flames after the attack, adding that the explosion was caused by rocket hitting the vehicle. "Seven soldiers were killed and 63 were injured,” he said in the afternoon.
Eight of the injured soldiers were in "critical condition," Güvençer said initially and added that four of them were sent to a hospital in Elazığ with ambulance aircraft.
A village guard who was on the scene told Doğan news agency that he went up to the blast zone right after the attack. "There were no explosives planted in the ground. They launched two rockets from a hill, hitting one of the vehicles. It went up in a ball of fire," he was quoted as saying.
The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.