Eight Turkish soldiers have died in clashes with Kurdish rebels and in a subsequent chopper crash near the country’s border with Iraq, Turkey’s military said Friday.
Clashes broke out with rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, near the town of Cukurca, in Hakkari province, early on Friday, killing six soldiers, a military statement said. Eight other soldiers were wounded.
At least six rebels were also killed in the fighting.
A military helicopter dispatched to the area to support the soldiers later crashed, killing its two pilots, the military said, adding that the crash was due to a technical fault.
In a separate operation, 15 PKK militants were killed in clashes in Turkey’s southeastern Sirnak province, broadcaster NTV reported, citing the Turkish military.
The Turkish military has killed 140 PKK militants in air strikes in northern Iraq between April 29 and May 10, NTV reported, citing the military.
Fighting between the PKK and the government forces picked up again in July when a more than two-year old peace process collapsed. Around 400 security force members have died since then.
The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its allies, has waged a three-decades-long insurgency against Turkey, in a bid to gain autonomy for Kurds in the southeast of the country. The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.
PKK-linked rebels have staged multiple bomb attacks against Turkish police and troops, which in turn have carried out tank-backed security operations in flashpoint areas. But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed no let-up in the operations.
On Thursday, four Kurdish rebels were killed while loading explosives onto a truck in the mainly Kurdish Diyarbakir province in the southeast, hours after a separate blast targeting the military in Istanbul wounded eight.
Eight people were detained in relation to the car bomb attack in Istanbul’s Sancaktepe neighborhood, NTV said on Friday, adding that suspects included the person believed to have left the explosives-laden car at the scene.
Six soldiers and a civilian were wounded when the car blew up near a military base.