ANKARA: Seven Turkish soldiers were killed on Thursday by an improvised explosive device in southeastern Turkey, the local governor’s office said in a statement.
The governor’s office in the Kurdish majority province of Batman blamed the attack on “terrorists” and said a wide operation had been launched to capture the culprits.
The state has been battling Kurdish fighters in the southeast region after the collapse of a two-year ceasefire in 2015.
Local authorities had previously said four soldiers were killed and another five injured in the explosion as their military vehicle was passing through the Gercus district.
But they updated the toll after three soldiers later died in hospital.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984 that has claimed some 40,000 lives.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.
In its official Twitter account, the US embassy in Ankara condemned the “brutal attack” in Batman, offering condolences to the relatives of the dead, in a message in Turkish.
“PKK terrorists must put an end to their attacks. We are standing by our ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” the embassy said.
Turkey and the United States are in recent months locked in one of the worst spats in their history over the detention by Ankara of an American pastor, which sent the Turkish lira into a freefall against the dollar.
Ankara is also frustrated by US support for the Syrian Kurdish militia forces deemed as “terrorists” by Ankara linked to the PKK, but by Washington as an effective force in the fight against Islamic State militants.–AFP