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Last Updated: Monday, 22 October 2007, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Turkish troops missing after raid
Istanbul demonstration on Sunday
Spontaneous protests erupted after the killings
Eight Turkish troops are still missing after an attack by Kurdish rebels on Sunday that left 12 dead, the Turkish military has confirmed.

The statement came as a news agency believed to be linked to the rebels named seven of the missing troops.

Protests in Turkey have put pressure on the government to launch raids on rebel positions inside Iraq, but Ankara has vowed to pursue political solutions.

Iraq's president says the rebels are set to announce a ceasefire.

The office of Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said the offer would be made on Monday evening.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has been blamed for recent attacks that have left more than 40 Turkish soldiers and civilians dead.

'Enough is enough'

The Turkish military said on its website: "Despite all search efforts, no contact has been established with eight missing personnel since shortly after the armed attack on the military unit."

The pro-PKK Firat news agency said the rebels had captured eight soldiers and named seven of them.

Click to view a detailed map of the border region

Sunday's ambush near the Iraqi border has inflamed public opinion in Turkey, with the media and opposition leaders calling for immediate strikes against the rebels.

Spontaneous protests erupted around the country on Sunday and several more demonstrations were held on Monday, including one in Istanbul involving several thousand people.

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Turkey would initially pursue political solutions.

"We will continue these diplomatic efforts with all good intentions to solve this problem... but in the end, if we do not reach any results, there are other means we might have to use," he said on Monday during a visit to Kuwait.

THE PKK
PKK rebels in northern Iraq - file photo
Formed in late 1970s
Launched armed struggle in 1984
Dropped independence demands in 1990s
Wants greater autonomy for Turkey's Kurds
Leader Abdullah Ocalan arrested in 1999
Ended five-year ceasefire in 2004

Last week, the Turkish parliament approved raids into Iraq, but the US has urged Turkey not to carry them out.

Ankara, in return, has called on Washington, which has a massive military presence in Iraq, to take "swift steps" against the PKK.

A spokesman for Mr Talabani confirmed that the Iraqi president had information of a ceasefire offer.

There is no confirmation from the PKK and it remains to be seen whether this will be enforced or effective.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul says that Turkey does not usually recognise such moves, which are a fairly frequent occurrence.

Turkey has deployed up to 100,000 soldiers, backed by tanks, fighter jets and helicopters, along the border.

PKK sources say that heavy Turkish shelling of rebel positions continued overnight but there were no reports of an incursion.

'Solution through dialogue'

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heading to London for a two-day visit. The UK has backed US calls for restraint.

However, Mr Erdogan has warned the US that failure to act against the PKK will threaten Washington's close relationship with Turkey.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Turkey should concentrate on strengthening its border first. Porous borders lead to infiltration by enemies
Anon, Kuala Lumpur

In an interview given to the Times newspaper before the weekend attack, Mr Erdogan said Turkey had not had a "single positive result" since US President George W Bush was told about the PKK's presence in Iraq.

Mr Erdogan said the US and Iraq should expel the PKK, close its camps and hand over its leaders.

Iraqi officials have described these demands as unrealistic although Mr Talabani has urged the PKK to lay down their arms or leave the country.

On Monday, the US urged the Iraqi government to take action quickly against the rebels.

The state department said cross-border raids were not the best way to tackle the problem and that the US was working with both countries on what it accepted was a real threat to the region.

The PKK, which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy, has an estimated 3,000 fighters in northern Iraq near the Turkish border.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Turkey prepares for a possible incursion into Iraq



SEE ALSO
Kurds 'will fight Turkish raids'
19 Oct 07 |  Middle East
Iraq urges Kurdish rebels to go
18 Oct 07 |  Europe
Profile: The PKK
15 Oct 07 |  Europe




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