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Turkey to pursue PKK 'until no terrorist remains'

AFP / Bulent Kilic | Turkish police stand near a building, where two police officers were found shot dead at their home on July 22, 2015 in the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar in an attack claimed by the PKK

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said Turkey would continue a campaign against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants "until not one terrorist remains" as the group claimed responsibility for the bombing of a police station in Istanbul.

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"We will continue our fight until weapons are laid down... and not one single terrorist remains within our borders," Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara.

His comments came as the Turkish military ratcheted up pressure on Kurdish militants with a fresh round of air strikes in the southeast of the country.

Warplanes pounded 17 targets in the province of Hakkari on Monday and Tuesday, the military said.

NATO member Turkey started what it called a “synchronised war on terror” last month, attacking PKK fighters in northern Iraq and, less frequently, Islamic State (IS) group militants in northern Syria.

By largely focusing on the PKK – both in neighbouring Iraq and at home – Ankara has raised suspicions among Kurds that its real agenda is to check Kurdish territorial ambitions rather than to crush the hardline Islamists.

Erdogan said Tuesday that Turkey’s air campaign against the PKK had already inflicted "serious losses" on the group.

"We know that the terrorist organisation sustained serious losses as a result of operations carried out inside and outside our country," Erdogan said, referring to the PKK.

He also said "effective operations" were carried out against IS group jihadists.

"For us, there is no difference between terrorist organisations. Whatever their purpose is, for us, a terrorist organisation is a terrorist organisation,” he said.

Peace process ‘in the fridge

The Kurds have retaliated to Turkey’s airstrikes with violence. On Tuesday, the PKK claimed responsibility for Monday’s bombing of the police station in which four people died, three of them attackers.

The bombing was one of a wave of attacks on Turkish security forces that killed at least nine people.

The mounting violence has all but ended a peace process between Turkey and the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy.

Erdogan acknowledged as much on Tuesday, saying the peace process was now "in the fridge", while taking a swipe at Kurdish political forces for not appreciating the government's steps to end the conflict.

"Unfortunately they did not understand what has been done" for them, he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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