Eight Turkish Soldiers Killed in PKK Clashes Near Iraqi Border

  • Two bomb explosions rock Turkey hours apart on Thursday
  • U.S.-made Cobra attack helicopter crashes in Turkey’s east

A clash between Turkish troops and the autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, left eight soldiers dead, including two pilots who died when their attack helicopter crashed in a mountainous area close to the Iraqi border on Friday, the military said in a statement.

The U.S.-made Cobra attack helicopter crashed while rushing to the area near the Turkish border town of Cukurca, the army said. The PKK claimed to have shot down the chopper, according to the Firat news agency, a Kurdish news source. The army said an investigation was underway into the accident.

The army said it has dispatched an F-16 fighter plane along with attack helicopters and a drone to detect and destroy PKK members in the border area. Six PKK militants have been killed in the clash so far, it said.

The clash in Cukurca followed two bomb explosions elsewhere in the country on Thursday.
A major explosion shook Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast, killing four PKK members as they were loading explosives onto a stolen truck, the interior ministry said. More than 20 people were wounded in the blast, which left a giant crater in the Sarikamis neighborhood, about 15 kilometers away from the center of Diyarbakir.

Istanbul Bombing

Also on Thursday, a car bomb attack by suspected PKK militants wounded six Turkish soldiers and a civilian driver of a military vehicle in Istanbul’s Sancaktepe district, the army said.

Turkey’s decades-old confrontation with the PKK reignited in July after a three-year lull, when peace talks between the government and imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan collapsed. The surge in violence followed an electoral success by the pro-Kurdish HDP party that gave it parliamentary representation for the first time in June, briefly depriving the AK Party co-founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of its single-party majority.

The government has since ruled out a return to talks and vowed to crush the PKK, while also initiating a process aimed at putting dozens of Kurdish lawmakers on trial on charges of ties to the outlawed group. The parliament is expected to vote on whether to lift legal immunities of lawmakers from various political parties next week..

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