Hopefor Peace Fades in Turkey Over PKK Attack
The nine soldiers were killed in an ambushnear the Iraqi border that was blamed on the Kurdish rebel group the PKK. TheTurkish army retaliated with airstrikes, but it is believed the rebels had already crossed back to their bases in neighboring Iraq.
The attack brought an angry response fromTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"Terrorists martyred our children. MayGod rest their lost. Terror is a cruel phenomena - without a religion, withouta nation, without a race, without a country." he said.
The PKK has stepped up attacks after endingits unilateral cease-fire last month.
Since 1984, the rebel group since has beenfighting for greater Kurdish rights in a conflict that has claimed more than40,000 lives. At least 30 soldiers have died in the past few weeks. And, withthe deaths coming in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, it has added to theanger in Turkey against the PKK.
Earlier this month, Mr. Erdogan warnedTurkey's restraint in action against the rebel group was coming to the end. Hesaid with the passing of Ramadan, Turkey's armed forces would retaliate.Ramadan ends in two weeks.
Journalist and military affairs expertMetehan Demir says the government's reaction will be tough.
"The nature of the operations will beharsh tough, and will include no mercy. And also will include more military airbombings. It will also include cross-border operations."
The bulk of the PKK are based in northernIraq. Two years ago, Turkish forces entered the region in a week-longincursion.
Analysts say Turkey may coordinate itsexpected operation with Iran, which is already engaged in a major operationagainst an offshoot of the PKK.
After last month's general-electionvictory, the prime minister had promised a new constitution that would addressmany of the Kurdish minority's demands.
But with the hope of peace fading, the fearis growing that Turkey could return to the 1990s - the peak of the conflictwith the PKK. That decade saw tens of thousands of people killed, hundreds ofthousands more forced from their homes, and Turkey's economy nearly bankrupted.