October 11, 2015 / 9:53 AM / 5 years ago

Turkey launches air strikes on PKK camps after ceasefire move

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish warplanes struck Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant targets in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey on Saturday and Sunday, pressing their military campaign a day after the rebel group ordered its fighters to halt attacks on Turkish soil.

Security sources said some 30-35 PKK guerrillas were killed in northern Iraqi raids on Sunday.

“The PKK ceasefire means nothing for us. The operations will continue without a break,” one senior security official told Reuters.

The PKK umbrella group told its fighters on Saturday to halt militant activities unless they face attack, in response to calls for them to avoid acts which could prevent a “fair and just election” being held on Nov. 1.

The announcement, though expected, came hours after twin bomb attacks on a rally of pro-Kurdish and leftist activists at Ankara’s main train station which a pro-Kurdish party said killed 128 people.

PKK shelters and gun positions were destroyed in the Metina and Zap areas of northern Iraq in Sunday’s air raids, a military statement said. It also said 14 PKK militants were killed in strikes in the Lice district of Diyarbakir province in southeast Turkey on Saturday.

Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan had already dismissed the anticipated ceasefire declaration as a “tactic” ahead of the election, reiterating government demands that the militants lay down arms and leave Turkey.

The PKK’s 31-year-old conflict with the state erupted anew in July, with Turkey launching air strikes on militant camps in response to attacks on its security forces, ending a March 2013 ceasefire. Hundreds have been killed in the latest fighting.

The PKK has announced a series of ceasefires in the past, including ahead of elections, often with a view to opening negotiations. Turkey’s army does not declare ceasefires.

Designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, the PKK launched a separatist insurgency in 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed. The state launched peace talks with its jailed leader in 2012.

Reporting by Daren Butler; Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Ralph Boulton

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