ISTANBUL, Turkey - Turkey's military command declared its "unshakable
determination" early Friday to defeat Kurdish separatists hours after a roadside
bomb killed three Turkish soldiers and wounded six.
Thursday evening occurred in one of several "temporary security zones" that the
military had just declared along the Iraq border during its campaign against the
Graphic shows locations of Turkey? temporary security
zones near the border with Iraq. [AP]
Authorities blamed the Kurdish rebels for the blast, which came amid
increasing activity by Turkish troops along the frontier that has fed concerns
the army might stage a large-scale offensive against rebel bases in the
predominantly Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
Turkish leaders say guerrillas cross into Turkey to stage attacks in their
recently escalated fight to win autonomy for southeastern Turkey, where ethnic
Kurds make up much of the population.
In a statement on its Web site, the military's General Staff vowed to fight
the rebels and called on all Turks to stand together "to resist in the face of
these terrorist actions."
"The Turkish Armed Forces has an unshakable determination in fighting
terrorism and it will absolutely give the necessary answer to such attacks," it
The bomb targeted a military vehicle near Siirt, a city 46 miles north of the
Iraq border, the governor's office said. It killed three soldiers and wounded
six other security personnel, including pro-government village guards, the
Turkey has grown increasingly frustrated with the rise in attacks by the PKK
rebel movement, and its leaders have sent more troops to the frontier while
publicly raising the possibility of sending the army into northern Iraq.
On Wednesday, the military said it was establishing "temporary security
zones" near the border. The declaration came the same day that Turkish security
officials and an Iraqi Kurdish official said hundreds of Turkish soldiers
crossed the border pursuing guerrillas.
Turkey's foreign minister denied there was a cross-border operation. Turkey
is an ally of the United States, and US officials have argued against an attack
into Iraq, fearing that might drag its Iraqi Kurdish allies into the conflict.
Some think Turkey may hope its military buildup will push the United States
and Iraqi Kurds to crack down on the separatists and head off a Turkish
The military did not say what it meant by "temporary security zones." Some
Turkish media said the areas would be closed to civilian plane flights, but
others said additional security measures would be implemented in the zones and
entry would be restricted.
In a statement posted on its Web site, the military said the zones would be
in place until Sept. 9, but gave no other information.
Newspapers said the areas are in Sirnak, Siirt and Hakkari provinces. Sirnak
and Hakkari are next to the border, while Siirt is north of the frontier. All
three provinces have been the scene of fighting with Kurdish rebels.
Some Turkish officials have said that if troops stage a major incursion into
Iraq, they might set up a buffer zone inside Iraq to try to stop rebel
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, cautioned Turkey against such an
operation and urged cooperation.
"We ask almighty God to lead all of us to the way of dialogue and negotiation
to solve all questions," Talabani told reporters Thursday. "There is a
tripartite, American-Iraqi-Turkish committee that is responsible for solving
Speaking as commander in chief of Iraq's military forces, he said the Iraqi
government would not accept foreign interference and "will defend by all means
its sovereignty and the independence of the nation."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said an incursion into
northern Iraq would require parliamentary approval.
Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, the military chief, said the army was ready for an
offensive but the decision was up to political leaders.