PKK 'holding two Turkish troops'

Fighters say men captured after Friday's fighting but refuse to say if they are alive.

    Thousands gathered across Turkey for the funeral of the dead soldiers [AFP]

    It said the jets had bombed PKK bases in the Avasin Basyan region in Iraq.

    Friday's PKK attack touched off the deadliest battle between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters in eight months.

    Fifteen soldiers and at least 23 fighters were killed, while another 20 soldiers were wounded and two were reported missing.

    Anti-PKK slogans

    On Sunday, thousands of people gathered across Turkey for the funerals of the soldiers killed in Friday's attack.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, attended a funeral in Armutlu, a village near the capital Ankara, for one of the dead soldiers.

    Many are urging the government for a tougher approach towards PKK [AFP]
    An estimated 2,000 people also attended the funeral, where mourners shouted anti-PKK solgans and demanded the execution of Abdullah Ocalan, the group's leader, who has been serving a life sentence since 1999.

    Anger has also been mounting at the Turkish government. Mourners booed Abdullah Gul, the president, at a funeral in the western city of Eskisehir.

    Many of those present demanded tougher action on the part of the government to crack down on the PKK.

    "If there is a government, it should show itself," said Molla Atagur, a 68-year-old resident in Armutlu.

    General Hasan Igsiz, the Turkish military chief, has accused leaders in northern Iraq of tolerating PKK fighters

    "We don't receive any kind of support from the local administration in the northern part of Iraq," he said.

    "Our expectation from them is to accept that the terrorist organisation is a terrorist organisation and eliminate the support provided to it."

    Plea to Baghdad

    The Turkish government is urging Iraqi Kurdish leaders to arrest the fighters and cut their supply lines.

    Commenting on the deaths of Turkish soldeirs on Friday, Igsiz said: "They did not die in vain, they did their duties and they succeeded."

    He also said northern Iraqi leaders should block the fighters from using local roads and hospitals.

    Iraq's national government has pledged to co-operate with Turkey.

    Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, who is also a Kurd, told Gul in a phone call on Saturday that he condemned Friday's attack.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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