Turkey’s army killed 115 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in battles in southeast Turkey since July 23 and fighting is continuing, Interior Minister Idris Sahin said.
The deaths occurred during clashes in areas including the province of Semdinli, the state-run Anatolia news agency said in Ankara, citing a statement by Sahin. The Semdinli region is adjacent to the Iraqi border and about 150 kilometers from Syria.
The PKK has fought Turkey’s security forces for three decades, seeking independence and more democracy for the country’s 12 million Kurds. The deaths came after Kurds in northern Syria, adjacent to Turkey, secured towns last week in a push for autonomy from Damascus. Hundreds of PKK militants are based in northern Iraq, where Kurds have already established their own autonomous region.
“Just as with the events in Syria, they’re trying to create a weak spot in Turkey, Sahin said. ‘‘But they couldn’t achieve that and they won’t achieve that.”
The PKK, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union, also attacked three military posts in the Hakkari region, also near the border with Iraq as the fighting continued, NTV television reported.
Turkish troops are seeking to stop PKK members not killed in the fighting from returning to Iraq, Sahin said.