Clashes between Turkish troops and Kurdish militants have intensified after eight soldiers and 10 militants were killed near Turkey's border with Iraq in the worst fighting this year Tuesday.
Escalating separatist tensions, about 100 guerillas belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) launched simultaneous attacks Tuesday morning on three military posts in the Hakkari province along the border with Iraq, killing eight soldiers and injuring 16, Reuters reported citing sources.
The troops killed 10 guerillas in the clashes that followed, said the Turkish authorities.
The attacks have overshadowed Turkish efforts, hailed as a historic step by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, to ease the long-standing tensions with the Kurdish minority.
Turkey recently announced plans to allow schools to teach the Kurdish language as an elective subject, an initiative aimed at ending the three-decade-long fighting with Kurdish rebels who seek autonomy in the largely Kurdish southeast.
However, Kurdish activists and politicians demand complete autonomy and full Kurdish education in schools.
The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), in a rare gesture, urged the PKK to end the battle calling for a political solution.
The PKK should stop all kinds of armed activity. The government should also halt (military) operations. Let them give a political solution a chance, BDP chairman Selahattin Demirtas said addressing party's parliamentary group.
This war must end. The deaths must stop. We can't stand by and watch the youngsters kill each other, he said.
President Abdullah Gul called the Kurdish attack on military posts treacherous and said the insurgents were sabotaging the atmosphere of trust.
I curse this treacherous attack, President Abdullah Gul was quoted as saying. The terrorist group wants to sabotage the atmosphere of trust and stability and is continuing its inhumane bloody attacks.
At a meeting with the world leaders during the G20 summit in Mexico, Erdogan called for the insurgents to stop the fight.
No one should ever make terrorism an issue of bargaining...There is only one thing to be done, and that's for the terrorists to lay down their arms, Turkey's state news agency reported Erdogan as saying.
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc recently suggested the possibility of moving PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan from prison to house arrest if the guerillas agreed to disarm.
However, prominent government figures immediately distanced themselves from the idea, with Erdogan saying it was Arinc's personal opinion.
Reports said that Tuesday's attacks on military posts highlighted how the Turkish military crackdown on the PKK, accompanied by arrests of thousands of Kurds, including politicians, academicians, journalists and activists for insurgent links, had heightened tensions in the region.
Mehmet Tahir Ilhan, a Kurd who is illiterate as well as deaf and dumb, is likely to be sentenced to 25 years in jail for supporting terrorism. He was arrested during a violent pro-Kurdish demonstration recently, and the evidence against him is that he was carrying half a lemon, which could cause effects similar to tear gas.