ANKARA, Turkey – Kurdish rebels detonated an explosive device on a road in southeast Turkey, killing at least seven soldiers on Thursday, officials said. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack.
The explosion occurred on a road near the town of Gercus in the majority-Kurdish province of Batman. The soldiers, who were inside an armoured military vehicle, were on their way to protect a construction site in the region, said Numan Kurtulmus, a deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling party.
Earlier, the state-run Anadolu agency said they were travelling to carry out operations against the rebel group.
Four of the soldiers were killed at the site while three others died of their wounds while hospitalized.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack and said Turkey wouldn’t be deterred from its fight against the rebels.
“The blood of our martyrs and our veterans will be avenged,” Erdogan said. “We want them to know that this incident intensifies our anger and our hatred.”
Anadolu said the military had launched a major operation, backed by air power, to apprehend the assailants.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has waged a more than three-decade old insurgency in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast region. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since it started in 1984.
The group is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its Western allies.
A previous version of this story was corrected to show that three other soldiers died while hospitalized, not two.