Turkish troops have killed 16 Kurdish fighters during an operation in southeastern Turkey in response to a bomb attack on a military convoy that killed five soldiers, according to the local governor's office.
The clashes, which occurred on Wednesday and Thursday, are part of a growing cycle of violence in the remote, mountainous province of Hakkari bordering Iraq and Iran - a development which Turkish officials and analysts are linking to the deepening conflict in Syria.
The army sent in troop reinforcements and helicopter gunships after Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) activists detonated
remote-controlled bombs in the attack on the army convoy in Hakkari's Semdinli district on Wednesday, Reuters news agency said.
Five soldiers were killed and seven wounded in that attack, the Hakkari governor's office said in a statement.
In a sign of Turkey's growing concern over the mounting violence in the mainly Kurdish region, the commander of the
military's land forces arrived in Hakkari on Thursday.
He sought to reassure mainstream public opinion, which favours a hardline response to fighters' attacks.
"Our operations in the area will continue without pause," General Hayri Kivrikoglu was quoted as saying on state media Anatolian's website.
"We always stand by our people. Our people should not worry. The Turkish armed forces will continue in its duty to protect the security of the people and the region," he said.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the PKK and Turkish forces since the group launched its armed campaign 28 years ago.
Since June last year, nearly 800 people have died in the conflict, including about 500 PKK fighters, more than 200
security personnel and about 85 civilians, according to estimates by the International Crisis Group think-tank.
The conflict is focused in the mountainous region bordering Iraq and Iran, but the PKK has also carried out attacks in Turkish cities. Officials blamed it for a car bombing on Monday which killed nine people in the city of Gaziantep, near Turkey's southeastern border with Syria.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union, has denied involvement in that attack.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's president, has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of backing PKK fighters and has threatened to intervene militarily in Syria if the group uses Syrian territory to threaten Turkey.