Turkish military bus ambushed
Suspected Kurdish fighters are said to be behind the attack in western province of Izmir that has claimed one life.
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2012 15:31
Video footage by Turkey's Dogan news agency showed investigators at the scene of the attack

At least one soldier has died in western Turkey after suspected Kurdish fighters launched an attack on a military bus, according to local media.

The vehicle was ambushed on its way to a naval base in the western province of Izmir in an attack which police said also wounded at least 11 people.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Dogan news agency reports that Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels detonated explosives on the road before opening fire on the vehicle at around 8am local time (05:00 GMT) on Thursday.

Listening Post - The PKK: 'Rebels' or 'terrorists'?

The attack took place near Foca, a small resort town on the Aegean coast where there is a naval base.

The soldiers in the bus returned fire, the news agency said.

Police declined to comment on who could be behind the assault. Attacks on military vehicles are common in southeast Turkey, but are rare in the west of the country.

Television images showed the bus with its windows blown out and glass strewn across the road, and investigators in white overalls searching the scene.

Wounded soldiers were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, a police spokesperson said. It was unclear if the 11 injured people included any civilians.

The attack came at a time of intensified clashes between the army and the PKK, which has fought a 28-year separatist conflict in Turkey in which more than 40,000 people have died, most of them Kurds.

The rebels have fought for autonomy in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984. Turkey, the United States and the European Union list the PKK as a "terrorist organisation".

Syria's Assad 'arming PKK'
With fighting centred close to the Syrian border, Turkish officials believe Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is arming PKK rebels, following a deterioration of ties between the two countries since the start of the Syrian uprising 17 months ago.

Thousands of Syrian refugees have been fleeing into Turkey, as the crisis continues to escalate [Reuters]

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been one of Assad's most vocal critics.

Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, repeated the allegations about Assad arming the PKK while travelling to Myanmar overnight, according to the Turkish media.

"Assad gave them weapons support. Yes - this is not a fantasy. It is true. We have taken necessary measures against this threat," he said.

Turkish armed forces have clashed with PKK fighters around the region of Semdinli, close to the borders with Iraq and Syria, since late July.

Erdogan said 115 PKK "militants" had been killed in the fighting there so far. Journalists and other non-residents have been barred entry to the area.

Murat Karayilan, the acting PKK leader, last week said the group was changing tactics with its battle in Semdinli, according to Firat News, a website close to the rebel group.

Instead of their traditional hit-and-run ambushes on Turkish security forces, PKK fighters will remain positioned in Semdinli in an attempt to form a stronghold there, he said.


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