Turkey Says It Killed 49 in Battling Kurd Rebels
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ISTANBUL -- More than 49 Kurdish insurgents were killed in the first two days of a new Turkish military offensive against P.K.K. rebels in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq, the military said Saturday.
The military began the operation, involving heavy air support and more than 10,000 troops, on Thursday, a day after an attack by the P.K.K., or Kurdish Worker's Party, killed 24 soldiers and injured 18 in the province of Hakkari, in one of the deadliest single-day attacks in recent years.
Part of the operation has extended into the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, a mountainous border area where P.K.K. militants often take shelter. Turkey has staged cross-border operations or bombardment several times in recent years, and it is a thorny issue in Turkey's relationship with Iraq.
"Operations that are conducted in several locations across the border and two locations in the country, and aim to prevent separatist terror organization actions against our units in the country and along borders, continue," the military's statement said. No predicted end date for the operation was given.
"The head of our armed forces and commanders have vowed not to return to their homes until this business is over," Bulent Arinc, the deputy prime minister, said Saturday, as quoted by the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency.
The Wednesday attacks by the P.K.K., which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, were condemned by both the Iraqi national government and the administration of Iraqi Kurdistan, and they sent senior officials to Ankara for meetings with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
A Turkish parliamentary commission is drafting a new constitution that is expected to expand the rights of Turkey's ethnic minorities, including Kurds, who make up almost one-fifth of the country's population of 74 million.
First Published October 23, 2011 12:01 am