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October 21, 2007
Kurdish Rebels Kill 12 Turkish Soldiers in Ambush
Things just got a little dicier along the Iraqi-Turkish border as Kurdish rebels ambushed a convoy of Turkish soldiers, raising fears that Turkey's army will carry out cross border raids on terrorist camps just inside Iraq:
Kurdish rebels ambushed a military unit near Turkey's border with Iraq early Sunday, killing 12 soldiers and increasing pressure on the Turkish government to stage attacks against guerrilla camps in Iraq. To make matters worse, 17 civilians were killed when a bomb exploded and destroyed a minivan - part of a wedding convoy according to local officials.
Iraq's president, a Kurd, ordered Kurdish guerrillas to lay down their weapons or leave. The soldiers died when rebels blew up a bridge as a 12-vehicle military convoy was crossing it, CNN-Turk television said. The Turkish military said it killed 23 guerrillas in a counteroffensive, and Iraq reported Turkish shelling toward Kurdish villages in the border area in northern Iraq. There were no casualties in the artillery bombardment.
The pro-Kurdish Firat news agency, based in Belgium, later said rebels also took several Turkish soldiers hostage. Firat cited guerrilla sources, but there was no immediate confirmation. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani urged the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, to stop their attacks amid fears an incursion would destabilize the relatively peaceful autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
This is why the US had declared the PKK a terrorist group. They are just as apt to target Turkish civilians (and Iranian civilians as well) in their attacks.
The Iraqi government seems powerless to stop them and even the autonomous Kurdish government is either reluctant or unable to prevent the attacks. Turkey wants the United States to try harder to reign in the PKK but it is difficult to see what kind of military pressure we could put on them. They locate their camps in very remote, mountainous areas and it would be a major effort to root them out - if we wanted to anger the Kurds by doing so in the first place.
It seems almost a certainty that at some point, the Turks are going to respond to these provocations. Whether that will indeed roil Kurdish Iraq is open to question.