16 soldiers killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast: Army

16 soldiers killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast: Army

16 soldiers killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast: Army

The Turkish Armed Forces shared this photo of a Turkish soldier on its Google+ account on Sept. 7

Sixteen Turkish soldiers were killed and six others injured on Sept. 6 in a major attack, in the southeastern province of Hakkari, conducted by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Turkish General Staff said in a written statement around 5:00 p.m. on Sept. 7. 

The Turkish army was conducting an operation to open a road between Hakkari’s two districts, Dağlıca and Yüksekova, on Sept. 6, when a group of PKK militants detonated a roadside improvised explosive device (IED). Two armored vehicles were heavily damaged, while 16 soldiers were killed in the attack, read the statement. 

It said that six other soldiers had also been wounded in the incident, none of them in critical condition, and their treatments were ongoing. 

Land and air operations have been launched after the incident, which the statement said were going on “steadfastly.” 

“Three F-4 and four F-16 fighter jets are firing at 23 targets the Separatist Terror Organization [PKK] was determined to be using since 9:00 a.m. Sept 7,” read the statement, detailing the targets as six caves, two warehouses, three sheltering spaces and 12 anti-aircraft sites. 

The General Staff’s statement came around a day after the attack took place, as an initial statement by the army, which was released around 2:00 a.m. on Sept. 7, had refrained from giving a death toll. 

In the initial statement, the General Staff said that the military unit, who was removing mines laid on the road by the PKK to re-open it to traffic, was attacked by militants.

“There are martyrs and wounded among our heroic brothers-in-arms due to the explosion,” the initial statement had said, without giving any casualty figures. “Despite very bad weather conditions, the operation continues decisively.”

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu broke off a trip to Konya where he watched a national football game and summoned an emergency security meeting in Ankara.

Davutoğlu was rushed in a motorcade to attend a security meeting with officials including Gen. Hulusi Akar, chief of General Staff, and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan. After two hours, the meeting ended without any public statement.

The PKK claimed the attack as an “act of sabotage,” in a statement on the website of its military wing, the People’s Defense Forces (HPG).

The group, which is known for occasionally exaggerating the death toll of security forces, said 15 Turkish soldiers had been killed. Other unconfirmed reports suggested that some soldiers had been taken prisoner by militants.

The PKK has been staging daily, retaliatory attacks against the Turkish Armed Forces as the military continues its operations against the group in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.

The violence has left a 2013 cease-fire in tatters, which aimed at finding a final peace deal to end the PKK’s three-decade insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.