ANKARA (AFP) - Turkish warplanes bombed a Kurdish rebel hideout in northern Iraq on Tuesday, destroying the base and killing an unspecified number of militants, the military said.
The air strike followed a deadly bomb attack in Istanbul at the weekend, which some observers have attributed to the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The "intensive" bombing targeted a large cave in the Qandil mountains, along the Iraqi-Iranian border, and up to 40 PKK militants taking refuge there, the army statement said.
"The cave was completely destroyed and most of the militants who were inside and outside the cave were rendered ineffective," it said.
A second PKK target, in the Zap region along the Turkish border, was bombed, the statement said, without giving further details.
Zap and the Qandil mountains are both major PKK strongholds.
The strike followed two bomb blasts in a crowded Istanbul street on Sunday evening, which killed 17 people, among them five children, and left more than 150 wounded.
Officials have pointed an accusing finger at the PKK, while Turkish media reports have said that a PKK militant trained in the Qandil mountains is suspected of having carried out the attacks.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, has denied responsibility for the blasts.
Turkish fighter jets have been bombing PKK positions in the mountains of northern Iraq since December 16.
In February, the army also conducted a week-long ground offensive against rebel bases in the region, killing at least 240 militants and destroying dozens of hideouts, training camps and ammunition depots.
Ankara estimates that more than 2,000 militants have taken refuge in Kurdish-run northern Iraq, using camps there as a jumping board for attacks on Turkish targets across the border.
The Turkish government has a one-year parliamentary authorisation for cross-border military action against the PKK, which expires in October.
The United States has backed its NATO ally by providing real-time intelligence on PKK movements in Iraq.
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In: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
Tags: turkey, attack, iraq, pkk, pjak, barzani, terror, terrorist, kurdistan, kordestan, krg, pashmarga, us, soldier, roadside, ambush, suicide, f-16, bomb, rocket, rpg, ak-47, rob, assault, shelter, cave, al, qaida, turk, kurd, predator, patriot
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