Attack kills 14 Turkish police after airstrikes against PKK

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A bomb attack in eastern Turkey killed 14 police officers Tuesday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, after more than 50 Turkish fighter jets launched airstrikes overnight against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in Iraq.

The roadside bombing against the police follows an ambush attack on Sunday in which 16 soldiers were killed by the PKK.

The airstrikes late on Monday involved 35 F-16 and 18 F-4 aircraft, Anadolu reported. According to the sources cited in the report, more than 35 members of the PKK were killed.

The toll could not be independently confirmed. The Firat news agency, considered close to the PKK, only reported that there were airstrikes overnight but did not mention casualties.

The PKK has bases in the Qandil mountain range in northern Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking after Sunday’s attack in the south-east, pledged the area would be “cleaned of terrorists.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday told A Haber TV that 2,000 PKK fighters had been killed, though the time frame he was referring to was not clear.

A two-year ceasefire between the state and the PKK broke down in July and since then more than 150 people have been killed inside Turkey, in addition to an unclear number of casualties in northern Iraq.

There were fresh reports of civilians caught up in the cross-fire in eastern Turkey with an 18-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl killed in Cizre on Monday while several were injured, according to reports.

Meanwhile, the PKK released 20 custom officers taken near two border crossing points in the east in August, Firat and the news portal Bianet reported. The officers were abducted in two incidents. There was no indication if any deal was reached for their release.

The Turkish state has been involved in armed conflict with the PKK since 1984, leaving about 40,000 people dead, mostly in the largely Kurdish south-east of the country.

The PKK began its armed insurgency with a goal of separatism, but has moderated its objectives to seeking greater autonomy and civil rights for Kurds in Turkey.

Peace talks between the armed group, headed by its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, and the government stagnated earlier this year.

Turkey heads for snap elections in November amid growing concerns about security during the polling. The last election in June led to a hung parliament and the parties were unable to form a coalition government, raising worries about stability.

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