Turkey: 8 police killed in landmine blast

September 16, 2012 - 8:35 AM

ISTANBUL (AP) — Suspected Kurdish rebels detonated a landmine along a highway in eastern Turkey on Sunday, killing eight police officers and wounding nine, Turkish media reported.

The attack occurred in Bingol province, where the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, also known as the PKK, is active. Video posted on the Dogan News Agency website showed the mangled remains of a white minibus with blown-out windows that had been carrying the police. The vehicle lay at a bend in a road, and ambulances and armored vehicles had gathered in the area as part of the rescue mission.

The attack comes amid a surge in fighting between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels who seek self-rule in southeastern Turkey. On Saturday, a similar attack on a military convoy killed four soldiers and wounded five in Hakkari province in the southeast, according to the provincial governor's office.

Officials in Hakkari said a total of 123 "terrorists," a reference to Kurdish rebels, had been killed in military operations in the past 10 days. Hakkari borders Iraq, where Kurdish militants have bases from which they launch hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets.

While Turkey and its Western allies consider the PKK to be a terrorist group, Turkish authorities have sought to address the grievances of many in its Kurdish minority by granting more cultural rights and initiating economic programs in predominantly Kurdish areas. However, Kurdish activists say the measures do not go far enough, and recent fighting has overshadowed such peace initiatives.