The Turkish military said on Monday that 16 soldiers were killed and six others wounded in a clash over the weekend that erupted following an attack by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Dağlıca area of the province of Hakkari.
In a statement released on its website, the military said roadside bombs laid by members of the PKK exploded as two armored vehicles passed the spot where the bombs were located. A total of 16 soldiers were killed in the attack and six others were injured. The military said the none of injured soldiers were in critical condition and added that their treatment has been ongoing.
The Turkish military launched an air operation and bombed PKK targets overnight after the PKK terrorists staged what seems to be its deadliest attack since the collapse of a cease-fire in July that had lasted two years.
Earlier in the day, Reuters quoted a news website close to the terrorist group, which reported that PKK had killed 31 Turkish soldiers in the attack.
The ANF news agency cited the PKK as saying a lieutenant colonel was among the dead and that six soldiers were also wounded in the clashes in the Dağlıca. It said the final number of casualties could be higher.
The military’s operations continued on Monday, with helicopters dropping special forces in a mountainous area near the Iraqi frontier, while drones sought out targets to be hit by warplanes.
According to reports, the clash began at around 3 p.m. on Sunday and pro-PKK websites reported on it at around 7 p.m. The news of the ambush and the ensuing clash was not reported on by Turkish news agencies until 9 p.m.
The location of the ambush had painful symbolism for the Turkish armed forces. It took place near the village of Dağlıca, the scene of a PKK attack in 2007 in which 12 soldiers were killed and eight captured.
The clashes, weeks before polls the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) hopes will restore its majority, threaten to sink a peace process President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched in 2012 in an attempt to end an insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Uncertainty arising from the conflict, coinciding with a campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) members based in Syria, has unnerved investors, with the lira dropping to record lows against the dollar.
The unrest has raised questions of how security can be guaranteed for the Nov. 1 vote. But Erdoğan, who has dominated Turkish politics for over a decade and now seeks a parliamentary mandate to extend his executive powers, said the election would go ahead.The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), accused by the government of being bound to the PKK, called for a renewed ceasefire and an extraordinary parliamentary meeting. HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş cut short a European visit, saying there could be no justification for killing.
“We will not surrender to war policies which only deem death proper for the people’s poor children and splatter blood on the mothers’ dreams of peace,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to the Dağlıca attack and conflict in the southeastern town of Cizre.
Local media reports said a lieutenant colonel in command of the Dağlıca battalion was among those killed.