ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Kurdish militants have claimed responsibility for the killing of seven Turkish soldiers in an ambush in northern Turkey this week, an agency close to the rebels reported today.
A group of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas carried out the attack in the province of Tokat "on their own initiative," the Firat news agency said, quoting a PKK statement. The report could not immediately be confirmed.
The PKK statement said the attack was retaliation for army operations against the militants. It said the ambush was not carried out on the orders of headquarters but said each rebel unit had the right to act on its own initiative.
Some 40,000 people have been killed in the PKK's conflict with the state since it took up arms in 1984 with the aim of creating a Kurdish state in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.
The fighting has subsided in the last couple of years after regular Turkish military warplane raids on the PKK's bases in the mountains of northern Iraq, but sporadic violence continues.
Turkey's top court is currently hearing a case on whether to ban the country's largest Kurdish political grouping, the Democratic Society Party, over alleged links to the PKK.