ANKARA, Turkey, (AP) – Turkish warplanes and artillery bombed dozens of Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq following an escalation in rebel attacks, the military said Saturday
“The warplanes successfully bombed all of the 31 targets in a midnight operation,” the military said. “The targets were later shelled by artillery units.”
The offensive against rebel hideouts in Iraq’s Hakurk area was the sixth cross-border Turkish bombing since the guerrillas killed 17 soldiers in a surprise attack on the border last week. The rebels ambushed a police bus on Wednesday, killing four policemen and the driver in the Kurdish-dominated city of Diyarbakir, further escalating tensions.
Turkey’s military and civilian leaders are pondering new measures to tackle the rebels, including extending detention periods and deploying thousands of anti-terrorism police in the battered southeast.
Turkey, meanwhile, has increased pressure on the Iraqi Kurdish administration in northern Iraq to help in the fight against the rebels. CNN-Turk television, citing diplomatic sources, said Saturday that talks were under way. Authorities did not immediately confirm the report.
Turkish leaders said the military could launch a new ground attack against the rebels if needed. A weeklong ground incursion in February reportedly killed hundreds of rebels but the rebel group still poses a serious security threat.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, branded a terrorist group by the U.S. and the EU, has been fighting for autonomy in the southeast since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have been killed.