Turkish military: Up to 160 Kurdish rebels killed
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's military said Monday that its air strikes and artillery fire on suspected Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq have killed an estimated 145 to 160 guerrillas and wounded as many as 100.
The military also said those casualty figures for this month’s offensive did not include its latest air strikes on rebel targets on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, said Monday that only three rebels and seven civilians, including four children, have been killed since the Turkish attacks began on Aug. 17, but it vowed to respond with its own attacks.
The PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union, is fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast region, and it routinely launches attacks from its bases in northern Iraq.
The casualty estimates by Turkish forces and the PKK often differ dramatically during such offensives in northern Iraq, and relief agencies, human rights groups and Iraqi government are rarely able to provide their own estimates.
The military said its air force attacks on Thursday, Friday and Saturday included 21 sorties that hit rebel targets in the Zap and Gara regions of northern Iraq along the rugged border of the two countries. Artillery units inside Turkey also shelled rebel targets in Iraq.
The military said it has tried to avoid civilian casualties in its attacks.
Meanwhile, the rebels appeared to keep up their own sporadic attacks.
A small bomb exploded on a beach in a Mediterranean resort of Kemer in Turkey’s Antalya province on Sunday, slightly injuring about 10 people, including at least four Swedes. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey have carried out deadly attacks at such tourist resorts.
A funeral also was held Monday in the Turkish town of Cukurca near the Iraqi border for a Kurdish activist who died on Sunday when hundreds of Kurdish activists clashed with police while trying to cross into Iraq to serve as “human shields” against the Turkish offensive. Some of the mourners at the funeral threw stones at police.
Tens of thousands of people have died since the PKK rebels began their campaign in Turkey in 1984.