Turkish air strikes 'kill 160 PKK fighters'

Turkish military says latest casualty count does not include raids last week against separatist bases in northern Iraq.

    Pro-Kurdish demonstrators have been clashing with police over attacks by the army, resulting in one death [Reuters]

    Turkey's military says that air strikes and artillery fire on suspected Kurdish separatist targets in northern Iraq have killed 160 fighters and wounded as many as 100.

    The military also said the casualty figures for this month's offensive did not include its latest air strikes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

    The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, said on Monday that only three fighters and seven civilians, including four children, had been killed since the Turkish attacks began on August 17, but it vowed to respond with its own attacks.

    The PKK has mounted a succession of attacks against Turkish military targets in recent weeks, notably an ambush earlier this month that killed seven soldiers.

    The Turkish military has said that it will monitor PKK activity in the region and continue strikes until the group is "rendered ineffective".

    The PKK, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the US and the European Union, is fighting for autonomy in Turkey's mostly Kurdish southeast region, and it routinely launches attacks from its bases in northern Iraq.

    The casualty confirmation by Turkish forces and the PKK often differ dramatically during such offensives in northern Iraq, and relief agencies, human rights groups and Iraqi government are rarely able to provide their own estimates.

    "Turkish air forces jets efficiently hit the targets of the separatist terror organisation in Zap and Gara regions between August 25-28 in 21 sorties," a statement on the army's website is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

    Artillery units inside Turkey have also shelled separatist targets in Iraq, but the military has said it has tried to avoid civilian casualties in its attacks.

    A funeral was held on Monday in the Turkish town of Cukurca near the Iraqi border for a Kurdish activist who died on Sunday when hundreds of Kurdish activists clashed with police while trying to cross into Iraq to serve as "human shields" against the Turkish offensive.

    Tens of thousands of people have died since the PKK rebels began their campaign in Turkey in 1984.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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