Seven soldiers, policeman killed in PKK attacks in Turkey’s southeast

Seven soldiers, policeman killed in PKK attacks in Turkey’s southeast

Seven soldiers, policeman killed in PKK attacks in Turkey’s southeast

Turkish plain clothes soldiers walk in front of a damaged army vehicle at Lice in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, on February 18, 2016. AFP Photo

Seven soldiers and a policeman have been killed while one soldier was heavily wounded in two different attacks by militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır and Şırnak. 

Six soldiers were killed and a soldier was heavily wounded as a military convoy returning from a search for mines on the Diyarbakır-Lice highway was targeted by the PKK early Feb. 18, less than a day after an attack, alleged by the government to have been carried out by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), claimed the lives of 28 in the nation’s capital.

An improvised explosive device (IED) previously installed by the PKK was detonated at 9:40 a.m. on Feb. 18 during the passage of a military convoy, a written statement by the Turkish Armed Forces announced. 

“Six of our heroic comrades-in-arms were martyred while one was heavily wounded,” it said, explaining that the wounded soldier was currently being treated at Diyarbakır Military Hospital. 

The highway was closed to traffic and searched for additional explosives after the blast. Scores of soldiers were also dispatched to the scene of the incident in order to apprehend the perpetrators of the attack. 

An initial investigation revealed that almost a ton of ammonium-enriched explosives were used in the making of the IED. The device was placed on the road with a 350-meter cable. 

Meanwhile, a second attack claimed the lives of two security officials, a soldier and a police officer, in the İdil district of the southeastern province of Şırnak. 

The two men were heavily wounded in an armed attack by PKK militants during a recently launched operation in the district, the Turkish General Staff stated. Accordingly, both officials succumbed to their injuries around 1:05 p.m. despite medical efforts. 

An indefinite curfew was declared in İdil on Feb. 16, which was followed by an exodus that lowered the town’s population to nearly one-tenth of its previous level.

The curfew was imposed to capture PKK militants and remove barricades and trenches “with explosives hidden inside” to ensure the “security of our people,” the Şırnak Governor’s Office said.

A military operation, named after special operations police Ersin Yıldırım who was killed in an IED attack by the PKK on Jan. 18, was launched in the district late Feb. 17. 

Reports indicate the operation will focus on the Turgut Özal and Yeni neighborhoods of İdil, in addition to the town’s Dirsekli village.