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Turkish planes pound PKK targets in north Iraq

Fourth strike against PKK since Friday

Turkish warplanes pounded suspected Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq for a second straight day on Tuesday, stepping up a bombing campaign after the death of 17 Turkish soldiers in a cross-border ambush.

The jets struck 21 targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Avashin-Basyan region in northern Iraq as well as the Buzul and Iki Yaka mountains in Turkey's southeast, it said in a statement.

"The planes returned safely to base after successfully completing their mission," the statement said, without further details.

The raid was the fourth strike against PKK hideouts inside Iraq since the militants killed 17 soldiers in a bloody attack Friday on a military outpost close to the border, in the bloodiest fighting this year.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the powerful military have pledged to intensify a campaign to crush the outlawed PKK after Friday's attack, the deadliest against the military in a year.

Turkey charges that thousands of PKK rebels enjoy a safe haven in the autonomous Kurdish-run north of Iraq and use the region as a springboard for attacks on Turkish targets across the border.

The PKK -- considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union -- took up arms for self-rule in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 44,000 lives.