Erdogan pledges to fight back as PKK steps up attacks

Updated: 2015-08-04 07:42

By Agence France-Presse in Istanbul(China Daily)

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Erdogan pledges to fight back as PKK steps up attacks

Two trucks were reportedly set on fire by Kurdistan Workers' Party militants in Tunceli, eastern Turkey, on Sunday. Agence France-Presse

Violence escalated following Ankara's air bombardment targeting Kurdish militants

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday vowed to do "whatever necessary" in Turkey's fight against Kurdish militants, with no end in sight to a two-week cycle of violence.

Ankara is waging a two-pronged cross border "anti-terror" offensive against Islamic State militants in Syria and rebels from the Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as PKK, in northern Iraq, after a wave of attacks in the country.

But so far, the airstrikes against the PKK targets in northern Iraq have far outweighed those against IS, raising concerns about the extent of possible civilian casualties.

Erdogan told reporters returning with him on a trip to Asia that the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq should be taking action against the PKK bases there.

"If they cannot, Turkey will do whatever necessary to defend itself," he was quoted as telling reporters on his presidential jet.

Despite the PKK staging daily attacks on security forces in reprisal for Turkish bombing raids, Erdogan denied there would be any return to the 1990s when the group's separatist insurgency was at its peak.

"I don't believe that. That's impossible. Maybe those who say this want to return to the 1990s," he said, quoted by the Sabah daily and other newspapers.

The current crisis began two weeks ago on July 20 when 32 young pro-Kurdish activists were killed in a Turkish town on the Syrian border in a suicide bombing blamed on IS.

The PKK, which accuses the government of collaborating with IS, shot dead two Turkish police in reprisal to start a new wave of violence that has shattered a 2013 ceasefire.

According to an AFP tally, 17 members of the Turkish security forces have since been killed in attacks blamed on the PKK.

Funerals for dead soldiers and police have now become a daily event, broadcast live on state television.

Erdogan said there may be a "common interest" between the PKK and IS, although the two groups are usually seen as bitterly opposed and have frequently clashed on the battlefield.

In new violence blamed on the PKK, two military vehicles were damaged in the southeastern province of Bitlis when they drove over a remote-controlled mine early Monday morning. The soldiers on board were not hurt.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party said 10 civilians, including a pregnant woman, were killed Saturday in a Turkish airstrike on a Kurdish village in Iraq. The Turkish foreign ministry promised a "full investigation" into the claims. But the army denied the charges, saying "no civilian locations were to be found in the vicinity affected by the bombing."