Helicopter downed, 14 killed in PKK clashes in southeast Turkey
People look in a huge crater after a powerful blast on May 13, 2016 in the area of Sarikamis on the outskirts of the majority Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. (AFP/Ilyas Akengin)
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At least six Turkish soldiers and six Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants have been killed in heavy fighting in the south-east of the country, the army said Friday.
Two pilots also died after a military helicopter involved in the fighting crashed, although the cause was probably a technical defect, the army added.
Eight soldiers were wounded in the clashes, which broke out early on Friday near a military base in Cukurca by the Iraqi border. Turkish ground forces were supported by F-16 fighter jets, attack helicopters and drones.
The PKK has been fighting for decades for self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey. The conflict escalated last year after a ceasefire was breached, and Turkish forces have been mounting large scale operations against the PKK for months.
On Thursday, four PKK fighters were killed in an explosion near the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. The Turkish Interior Ministry said the blast occurred when militants were loading explosives onto a stolen vehicle.
The incident came just hours after an apparent car bomb attack targeting security forces in Istanbul.