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Turkish air strikes hit 17 Kurdish militant targets, military says

A Turkish Air Force A400M tactical transport aircraft takes off from Incirlik airbase in the southern city of Adana, Turkey

By Ece Toksabay and and Seymus Cakan

Turkish warplanes hit 17 Kurdish militant targets in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Monday and Tuesday, the military said, as it ratchets up an offensive against the insurgents.

Turkey has been buffeted by increased fighting between its military and the outlawed Kurdistan People’s Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency for greater Kurdish autonomy.

On Tuesday, the PKK claimed responsibility for Monday’s bombing of an Istanbul police station in which four people died, three of them attackers. The bombing was one of a wave of attacks on Turkish security forces that have killed at least nine people.

In a statement published online, the PKK called for a focus on attacks that “damage the enemy” rather than just sacrificing the fighter.

NATO member Turkey started what it called a “synchronised war on terror” last month, attacking PKK militants in northern Iraq and, less frequently, Islamic State insurgents in northern Syria.

By largely focusing on the PKK – both in Iraq and at home – Ankara has raised suspicions among Kurds that its real agenda is to check Kurdish territorial ambitions rather than battle hardline Islamists.

The air strikes in Hakkari followed operations on Sunday in the eastern Agri province, which killed seven PKK militants, according to the local governor’s office.

In ground fighting, security sources said the PKK attacked a military station in Sirnak, a province adjacent to Hakkari, and killed one soldier in a 20-minute battle.

One PKK militant was killed in a clash in Bingol province, the local governor’s office said.

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