Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 17:22 pm (KSA) 14:22 pm (GMT)

Turkish soldiers clash with PKK, killing 38

Clashes erupted southeast Turkey near the Iraqi border (File)
Clashes erupted southeast Turkey near the Iraqi border (File)

Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Saturday vowed a strong response after 15 Turkish soldiers and 23 Kurdish PKK separatist rebels were killed in the bloodiest fighting this year in the country's southeast.

Erdogan said he had cancelled a two-day visit to Mongolia and would immediately return home from Turkmenistan to discuss Ankara's reponse.

An army spokesman said that fighting erupted Friday afternoon when a group of rebels attacked a border post in Semdinli town, Hakkari province, under cover of heavy weapons' fire from bases in northern Iraq.

Turkey's military has staged several cross-border operations, including a brief land offensive in February, against PKK bases in mountainous northern Iraq over the past 12 months.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan asked parliament last month to extend a mandate, which expires later this month, to launch further military operations against the PKK in Iraq.

Ankara blames the PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, for the deaths of more than 40,000 people since it launched its campaign for an ethnic Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

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