A car bomb attack on a military station has killed at least 18 people in the Hakkari province of southeast Turkey, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Yildirim announced the death toll of ten soldiers and eight civilians during a news conference in Istanbul and condemned the attack.
“For the stability of our country, we will continue doing everything we can to save our homeland and our nation from the forces of terrorism,” he said.
Cuneyt Orhan Toprak, the governor of Hakkari province, told private news channel NTV that 27 others were wounded in the attack. They were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment.
Eleven of them were soldiers, the Turkish military said.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, citing a statement by the Turkish army, said the attack occurred at 9:45am outside a gendarmerie checkpoint on the Semdinli-Yuksekova highway and was the work of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK is designated as a “terror group” by Turkey, the EU and the US.
PKK fighters are active in the mountainous area near the border with Iraq and Iran in Hakkari.
Toprak said the attackers first opened fire on the soldiers at the five tonnes of explosives and detonating them.
The explosion produced a crater 15 metres wide and seven metres deep. An infantry station behind the checkpoint also suffered heavy damage.
Turkish authorities imposed a temporary blackout on coverage of the attack, citing public order and national security reasons.
Authorities on alert
Turkey has been rocked by a series of bomb attacks since last summer that have killed hundreds of people and been blamed on either the PKK or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
Authorities were on high alert for possible attacks on Sunday in particular, which marked 18 years to the day since PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan fled Syria before being captured by Turkish special forces in February the following year.
He has since been in prison on an island near Istanbul.
On Saturday, a man and a woman who authorities suspect were PKK fighters preparing a car bomb attack detonated explosives and killed themselves near the capital Ankara in a standoff with police.
Separately, eight PKK fighters and four civilians were also killed on Saturday by gunfire from an armoured police vehicle in the town of Yuksekova near the Iranian border.
On Thursday, a bomb attack near a police station in Istanbul wounded 10 people. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), a PKK offshoot, claimed responsibility for that blast.
Fighting between the PKK and state security forces resumed last year after the collapse of a fragile two-and-a-half-year ceasefire.
Since then, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK fighters have been killed, according to Anadolu.