Turkey determined to crush Kurdish militants - PM Erdogan
22/10/2007 10:44 ANKARA, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late Sunday that Ankara would take all possible steps under international law to crack down on Kurdish militants.
Turkey's leadership gathered for an emergency meeting on Sunday evening after a deadly attack by militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) killed at least 12 Turkish soldiers. The attack occurred just after midnight on Sunday in the Hakkari province, bordering northern Iraq, when rebels blew up a bridge as a 12-vehicle military convoy was crossing it.
"Whatever price is necessary, we will pay it," Erdogan told a news conference after the meeting.
Turkey's parliament sanctioned last Wednesday military cross-border operations against around 3,500 PKK militants, believed to be based in Iraq, following an earlier government request.
"Although Turkey respects Iraq's territorial integrity, it will not tolerate the aiding and abetting of terrorism, and it will not be deterred from paying the price to protect its rights, indivisible integrity and citizens," Turkey's leaders said in a statement after the Sunday meeting.
The U.S. condemned the Kurdish attack, but again urged Turkey not to launch a cross-border offensive against Kurdish rebels.
Erdogan said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had asked him in a telephone conversation on Sunday to hold off any cross-border actions "for a few days."
Meanwhile, Turkey's General Staff confirmed that army units, backed by helicopters, were attacking PKK rebels along the border with Iraq, and that artillery had pounded 63 suspected rebel positions.
The PKK, listed by the U.S., NATO and the EU as a terrorist organization, has been fighting for autonomy status in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years, and has recently intensified attacks along the Iraqi border. The conflict has so far claimed about 40,000 lives.
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