Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 11:46 UK

Turkey launches raids on N Iraq

Turkey map

The Turkish air force has bombed Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, claiming they were trying to launch operations against Turkey.

The air raids were backed by artillery shelling, Turkey's military said.

The strikes targeted Kurdish PKK guerrillas based in the northern Iraqi regions of Zap, Avasin-Basyan and Hakurk.

Turkey has staged several cross-border raids into northern Iraq over the past few months in pursuit of the rebels.

No casualty figures from Friday evening and Saturday morning's air raids were available.

"All planes returned to base safely after successfully executing their mission," the Turkish military said in a statement, adding that "the utmost care was taken not to harm the civilian population".

At least two Turkish soldiers were earlier been killed during clashes with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas in south-eastern Turkey, the military said.

Ground offensive

The Turkish parliament authorised cross-border operations against the PKK late last year.

In February, Ankara launched a week-long ground offensive in northern Iraq which, it said, targeted bases used by up to 3,000 Kurdish rebels as a spring-board for attacks across the border.

It accuses Iraq of failing to stop the PKK - who are fighting for greater autonomy in south-eastern Turkey - from using the area as a safe haven.

The PKK is branded a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU.

More than 30,000 people have been killed since it began its armed campaign in 1984.

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