Turks Protest Kurdish Rebel Violence at Soldiers' Funerals, in Streets

Thousands of Turks gathered on Tuesday for the funerals of 12 soldiers slain in a weekend Kurdish rebel attack, denouncing the guerrillas and calling on the government to take tough action against the group.

Thousands of people also gathered in Istanbul and in cities across Turkey, waving Turkish flags and holding up posters of modern Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Some 10,000 people attended the funeral of Vedat Kutluca, one of those who died in an ambush by the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, near the border with Iraq on Sunday. The attack has increased pressure on the government to order a cross-border military offensive into northern Iraq to hit PKK bases there.

"Damn the PKK!" and "Hey government, don't test our patience," mourners protested during the funeral in Keskin, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of the capital, Ankara.

"We'll go into Iraq and grab Barzani," the mourners also shouted, in reference to Massoud Barzani, the leader of Iraq's Kurdish region, where the PKK is based.

"Our patience is running out," said Ilhan Keskes, one of those attending the funeral. "The government must do something before the nation explodes."

People tried to touch Kutluca's Turkish flag-draped coffin. Several people could be seen crying.

There were similar protests at funerals in the other soldiers' hometowns. Elsewhere, people held a minute of silence in respect for the soldiers.

Some 3,000 people also gathered in a main square in Istanbul, denouncing the PKK and calling on the government to resign.