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Turkish jets bomb Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq

Turkish jets bombed hideouts of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq overnight after deadly clashes in Turkey, the military said. The PKK takes refuge in rear bases in northern Iraq, using them to launch attacks on Turkey.


AFP - Turkish jets bombed Kurdish rebel targets in neighbouring northern Iraq overnight following deadly clashes inside Turkey, the military said Friday.

"The targets were hit successfully," it said in an online statement, without any mention of casualties among the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The warplanes targeted PKK hideouts in the Qandil mountains and the Khakurk region, the statement said, adding that "necessary caution was displayed so that civilian people are not adversely affected."

The PKK, which has dramatically stepped up violence in recent weeks, takes refuge in rear bases in northern Iraq, using them as a launching pad for attacks on Turkish targets across the border.

A PKK spokesman based in northern Iraq said the raid began at 11 pm (2000 GMT) Thursday and lasted an hour and a half.

"The attack targeted villages near the borders with Iran and Turkey in the region of Khakurk," Ahmet Denis said.

"A house in the village of Qouzina was destroyed, causing no casualties," he added.

The air raid followed clashes inside Turkey on Thursday in which 17 people -- 12 militants and five members of the security forces -- were killed, according to the army.

The fighting erupted after PKK rebels, armed with rockets and assault rifles, attacked a military unit in a rural area in Siirt province.

In their bloodiest attack in two years, the PKK killed 12 soldiers last month in an attack on a border guard post at the Iraqi frontier.

Also last month, five soldiers and a teenage girl were killed in the bombing of a bus carrying army personnel in Istanbul, which was claimed by the rebels.

The violence surged after jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said through his lawyers in May that he was abandoning efforts to seek dialogue with Ankara for a peaceful end to the 26-year conflict.

The mounting clashes dealt a severe blow to an already faltering government initiative, announced last year, to boost Kurdish freedoms and investment in the impoverished southeast, in a bid to cajole the PKK into laying down arms.

The Turkish army has been targeting PKK hideouts in northern Iraq under a parliamentary authorisation for cross-border military action, which was first approved in 2007 and later extended until October.

The United States has backed its NATO ally by supplying intelligence on PKK movements inside Iraq.

The surging violence has cast a shadow also on Turkish efforts to mend fences with the Iraqi Kurds, whom Ankara had often accused in the past of tolerating the PKK in their autonomous region in northern Iraq.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in the southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

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