A roadside bomb exploded in eastern Turkey on Monday, killing nine soldiers who were on their way back from an operation against Kurdish rebels, an official said. Two other soldiers were wounded.

The military vehicle the soldiers were traveling in was struck by the bomb on a road near Kemah, a town in the province, Gungor said. A lieutenant colonel was killed in the attack, he said.

The governor said seven of the soldiers were killed instantly, while one died on the way to a hospital and another died while being treated at a hospital.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, has been fighting for self-rule in southeast Turkey since 1984. The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people.

In recent months, Turkish warplanes have repeatedly attacked suspected rebel positions in northern Iraq, and carried out a weeklong ground offensive there in February. The rebels use bases in northern Iraq as a springboard for attacks in Turkey.