Turkey says kills 150 PKK militants

The Turkish army said on Saturday that it killed more than 150 PKK militants in air strikes in northern Iraq this week.

Turkey says kills 150 PKK militants
The Turkish General Staff, in a statement on its website, said its warplanes had destroyed all the PKK posts they had targeted in bombing operations in Iraq's Qandil area on Thursday and Friday.

"It was established that more than 150 terrorists were left ineffective and the operation caused a big panic among the terror organisation's members," the statement said. The Turkish army uses the term "ineffective" to mean killed.

Senior PKK members might be among the killed, it added.

"Denial"

The PKK denied this.

"There were not 150 PKK fighters killed. This is totally inaccurate," PKK spokesman Ahmed Danees told Reuters by satellite phone from a secret location in northern Iraq.

He said "the air strikes had killed six Kurdish rebels from a different faction that is fighting Iran".

The strikes took place near an area where the borders of Iraq, Turkey and Iran meet.

Iranian forces have also often clashed in Iraqi border areas with militants from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the PKK.

Security forces in Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdistan region said they were not aware of any casualties from the strikes on Thursday and Friday.

"We are not aware of 150 dead. We think there were no casualties in the Turkish bombings on the Qandil Mountains," Jabbar Yawar, spokesman for the Kurdish Peshmerga security forces, told Reuters.

The Turkish air attacks in a remote mountainous area of Iraq were part of a pattern of escalating strikes against PKK positions and increasing attacks against PKK in Turkey.

Military sources told Reuters that at least 30 warplanes had been involved in the new raids in Qandil area.

Turkish troops conducted an eight-day large-scale incursion across the border in February in which the army said it killed 240 militants and lost 27 of its soldiers.

Turkey blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 40,000 people in its campaign for a homeland. The United States and the European Union consider it a terrorist organisation.

Reuters
Last Mod: 04 Mayıs 2008, 09:45
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