Turkish Warplanes Bomb Kurdish Hideouts in Iraq, Turkey

Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey on Monday in retaliation for the killing of 17 soldiers three days ago, the military said.

The military said its warplanes bombed the Avasin Basyan region of northern Iraq and the Buzul Mountain in southeastern province of Hakkari, bordering Iraq and Iran, in pursuit of rebels who killed the soldiers Friday.

Turkey stepped up its military activity after 17 soldiers and at least 23 insurgents were killed Friday in the fiercest battle between Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels in eight months.

The military said Monday it had recovered the bodies of two missing soldiers, which increased number of soldiers killed to 17.

In northern Iraq, a rebel spokesman said the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, had suffered no casualties in the latest attack.

"There are no PKK personnel here in this area that was bombed so we have no casualties among our fighters," Ahmed Deniz said.

The violence broke a period of relative calm that had lasted since February, when Turkey claimed to have killed hundreds of rebels in a ground offensive in northern Iraq.

Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said Monday the government was considering a military request for an increase in powers in combatting rebels. The military has said changes to Turkish anti-terrorism laws, pushed by the European Union, have crippled its ability to fight the rebels and should be revoked while still safeguarding human rights.

Turkey's Parliament is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to extend by a year the military's authority to carry out operations in northern Iraq. The current mandate expires Oct. 17.

In other fighting, a village guard paid by the government to assist troops was killed in a clash with rebels in the Amanos mountains in southern Turkey on Sunday, the private Dogan news agency reported Monday.

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's southeast since 1984.

The military has accused Iraqi Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq of providing the rebels shelter and support. But Deniz, the Kurdish rebel spokesman, said Monday that the Iraqi Kurdish administration in northern Iraq was not helping the rebel group.