|The difference between the Kurdish and Assyrian struggle|
- Sunday, August 7 2005, 20:41:32 (CEST)|
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Turkey vows to crush Kurdish terrorists as bomb blast kills five soldiers
Latest wire from AFP
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ANKARA - A powerful bomb blast, blamed on Kurdish terrorists, killed five Turkish troops in the southeast of the country early Friday, prompting a pledge by the army to clamp down on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK).
The explosion in the town of Semdinli in Hakkari province, which borders both Iran and Iraq, also left one soldier injured, the provincial governor`s office said in a statement faxed to AFP.
The explosion ripped through a busy street between the security wall surrounding the local gendarmerie headquarters and the guest house used by local personnel at 12:40 am (2140 GMT), the statement said.
It added that the bomb was believed to have been set off either on a timer or by remote control.
Citing anonymous military officials, the Anatolia news agency reported that the explosives were left in a plastic bag and went off just as the soldiers were passing it.
Friday`s attack, which drew heavy condemnation from army chief Hilmi Ozkok, constituted the heaviest loss of life for Turkish security forces in recent months amid a marked increase in fighting between the army and PKK terrorists in the southeast.
"All of us are sad witnesses to the brutal and ruthless bomb attacks the PKK terrorist organisation has recently carried out against both military and civilian buildings and personnel," General Ozkok told a ceremony here to welcome back soldiers serving in the multinational peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
"Despite reduced authority, the Turkish armed forces are continuing and will continue to fight, with self sacrifice, the terrorist organisation which aims to take our nation back to painful days in the past," he added.
Ozkok did not elaborate on his complaint over the army`s reduced authority, but recent amendments in the anti-terror law aimed at easing the country`s entry into the European Union have limited the authority of security forces, bringing strict rules on house raids and arrests.
The PKK, listed by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organisation, took up arms in 1984 for self-rule, with the conflict claiming some 37,000 lives.
The group announced a unilateral truce in 1999 -- following the capture of its leader Abdullah Ocalan -- to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict and most of the terrorists retreated into the mountains of neighbouring northern Iraq.
But the PKK called off the truce in June 2004 on the grounds that Ankara`s efforts to expand Kurdish freedoms were insufficient.
Since then, there has been a sharp increase in clashes in the southeast and the terrorists have been blamed for a number of bomb attacks in tourist resorts in western Turkey amid charges by the military that the militants are infiltrating Turkey with large amounts of explosives.
Police hold the PKK responsible for the bombing of a bus in the seaside resort of Kusadasi on July 16, which killed five people, among them a British woman and an Irish teenager.
A little known Kurdish group calling itself the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), which police say is a cover for PKK attacks on civilians, claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in another Aegean resort, Cesme, which left 20 people injured.
Israel approves Gaza evacuations despite Netanyahu resignation.
The Israeli cabinet approved the evacuation of a first batch of three Gaza Strip settlements despite the shock resignation of Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the landmark pullout.
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