Six Turkish soldiers killed in attack: report

ANKARA Mon May 31, 2010 2:50am EDT

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Six Turkish soldiers were killed and seven wounded in a rocket attack on a naval base in the Mediterranean port city of Iskenderun, the state Anatolian news agency reported on Monday.

Three of the seven wounded were in a serious condition after the attack which came just after midnight, in the port city close to the Syrian border.

Rebels from the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have stepped up attacks on Turkish army posts in the southeast in recent weeks since warmer weather allowed them to leave their mountain hideouts, but the group rarely attacks naval targets.

The rocket attack comes after a weekend of violence in the southeast which saw six people killed in separate attacks, and as thousands of Turkish soldiers engage in large-scale operations in the provinces of Hakkari, Siirt, Tunceli, Diyarbakir and Bingol.

Kurdish rebels attacked the offices of a mining company in Hatay late on Saturday, killing a security guard and wounding two more.

In two other clashes two soldiers died and three village guards working for Turkish security forces were killed.

Just over a week ago Turkish warplanes bombed some 50 PKK targets in northern Iraq, where rebels have their hideouts.

Militants said in March they could renew fighting against Turkish forces after the spring thaw because a political settlement seemed more remote since the ban of Turkey's main Kurdish party and because of Turkey's military action.

The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 with the aim of creating an independent homeland in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country.

More than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died in the conflict, which decreased in intensity since the capture and jailing of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1999.

(Writing by Selcuk Gokoluk and Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Charles Dick)

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