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Turkey hits Kurdish bases in Iraq

30 April 09 10:09 GMT

Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq on Wednesday and Thursday, Turkish officials say.

The raids came hours after the deaths of 10 Turkish soldiers in two separate attacks that were blamed on the rebels, the deadliest in months.

The banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been fighting for autonomy since 1984. Since then, the conflict has left more than 40,000 people dead.

The government has arrested 51 suspected PKK members this month.

Air force planes bombed targets in the Iraqi border regions of Zap and Avasin-Basyan in the overnight raids.

"The targets... have been hit effectively and with full accuracy," said a statement from the military that was quoted by AFP news agency.

On Wednesday, a powerful bomb blast killed nine soldiers in Diyarbakir in south-eastern Turkey. Suspected rebels also shot dead a soldier near the town of Semdinli, close to the border with Iraq.

Turkish warplanes have often targeted rebel hideouts in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region, where Ankara says some 2,000 PKK guerrillas regularly stage hit-and-run attacks on Turkish territory.

Turkish army chief, General Ilker Basbug, on Wednesday once again urged Iraq's Kurdish regional government to expel the PKK from their territory, saying that "they must participate more actively" in efforts to curb the rebels.

Last November, Iraq, Turkey and the US formed a joint committee to assess and address the threat posed by the PKK fighters.

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