The attack in Turkey’s eastern province of Tunceli left a third soldier injured.

Tunceli Governor Ali Cafer Akyuz blamed the attack on members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a separatist battle against Ankara for 15 years.  

The governor said the bullets were fired at close range by a group of 10 gunmen. They targeted only the escort vehicle and Tunceli’s car which was marked by a flag.

Akyuz said the response would be harsh.

A security operation was underway in the province as soldiers, backed by air cover, scoured the region to find the assailants.

A gunfight erupted between the soldiers and suspected rebels.

History of clashes

Clashes between Turkish forces and PKK members in the mainly Kurdish southeast region of the country have become more frequent in recent months following a period of relative calm.

Fighting dropped off when PKK leader Abd Allah Ocalan was captured in 1999.

The separatist battle between Ankara and the PKK, which now goes by the name of Kadek, has left as many as 30,000 civilians killed.

Ankara stations more than 1,000 troops inside the border with northern Iraq in a controversial deployment it claims is necessary to protect its territory from Kadek members.