PKK kills 24 security members, injures 18 in Hakkari terror attacks

(Photo: Google Earth)

October 19, 2011, Wednesday/ 09:13:00

Twenty-four members of the Turkish security forces were killed and 18 were injured in the southeastern province of Hakkari early on Wednesday in simultaneous attacks carried by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Terrorists attacked several military and police buildings in the Çukurca district and Hakkari's city center and 24 soldiers and police officers were killed. At least 18 soldiers were also wounded when the terrorists opened fire on military outposts in Çukurca and Yüksekova districts in Hakkari province on the border with Iraq, the sources said. The attacks reportedly occurred simultaneously.

Hakkari Governor Muammer Türker confirmed the attacks in the predominantly Kurdish province of Hakkari but gave no further information about casualties. Earlier, the sources said 21 soldiers had been killed but later raised the toll to 26, before Prime Ministry officials revising the figure again and announcing it as 24 later in the day. Turkey's armed forces could not be immediately reached for comment. The PKK did not immediately claim responsibility for the attacks.

Reuters said citing military sources that Turkish commandos crossed into northern Iraq in hot pursuit of the terrorists after the Hakkari attacks.

It was the deadliest PKK attack in several years. Around 100 terrorists were believed to have participated in the attacks, according to TRT television. The terrorists fled to northern Iraq at dawn after nearly four hours of intense fighting as Turkish military shelled their escape routes, NTV television said.

The attacks come only a day after five policemen and three civilians, including a 2-year-old girl, were killed in a roadside bomb attack planted by the PKK in nearby Bitlis province.     

Wednesday's attacks also come only days after Turkish President Abdullah Gül visited troops in the region to boost morale in an area that has seen increased violence in recent months.      

Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and force commanders travelled to Hakkari after the news of the soldiers' deaths. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was scheduled to leave the country on Wednesday for an official visit to Kazakhstan, cancelled his trip. There are reports that Erdoğan will also go to Hakkari.

Erdoğan called an emergency meeting at the Prime Ministry after the attacks. Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahim, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan are attending the meeting.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also cancelled a planned trip to Serbia on Wednesday. Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek cancelled a scheduled trip to the US.