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PKK militants kill 2 soldiers in Turkey’s east: Sources

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Soldiers carry the coffin of army officer Murat Taylan Oncel, 33, killed after Kurdish militants attacked his base with rocket launchers in Silvan on October 11, 2016 in Ankara. (Photo by AFP)

At least two Turkish soldiers have been killed in clashes with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the east of the country, military sources say.

The army soldiers were attacked and injured while carrying out an operation in the province of Tunceli, the sources said on Monday.

They were transferred to hospital but succumbed to their wounds there, hospital officials said.

Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale anti-PKK campaign in its southeastern border region over the past few months. The Turkish military has also been pounding the group’s positions in northern Iraq as well in breach of the Arab country’s sovereignty.

A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants in July 2015 following the Turkish strikes against the group.

More than 600 Turkish security forces and over 7,000 PKK militants have been killed since the collapse of the truce, according to a toll provided by Anadolu.

According to the Turkish Interior Ministry on Monday, at least 49 Kurdish militants have been killed or seized over the past week. It added that 269 people suspected of supporting and funding the PKK had also been detained.

Turkey has also toughened its crackdown on the Kurdish population in the country’s southeast after an abortive coup on July 15, claiming it is hunting down militants of PKK.

Ankara has arrested more than 37,000 people as part of the ensuing crackdown, accusing most of the suspects of having ties to Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the coup. Tens of thousands have also been dismissed or suspended from their positions in the military and public institutions.

The opposition has fiercely criticized the widening crackdown, with top figures in the Republican People's Party (CHP) accusing the government of capitalizing on the failed coup to stifle dissent.

Western governments and major rights campaigners have also censured the crackdown, saying Ankara has acted beyond the law in its hunt for coup plotters.

Turkey has criticized the EU for not doing enough to condemn the abortive coup. The EU says Ankara has been acting beyond the rule of law in its post-coup clampdown.


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