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PKK abducts two Turkish soldiers: Army

An operation is under way to find the Turkish soldiers, who were off-duty when they were kidnapped by suspected PKK militants
A woman mourns over the coffin of her relative at a funeral of a police officer in Turkey who was killed in a PKK attack in September 2015 (AA)

Suspected militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) abducted two Turkish soldiers in eastern Turkey amid a flare-up of violence between Kurdish rebels and security forces, the army said on Saturday. 

The militants seized the soldiers late Friday after stopping a passenger bus on a highway between the Tunceli and Erzincan provinces, the army's high command said in a statement on its website. 

An operation was under way to find the soldiers, who were off-duty when they were kidnapped, it added. 

Abductions by the PKK are relatively common and usually end peacefully. 

There were no further details about the situation of the soldiers, but the Hurriyet newspaper said on its website that the two conscripts were taken by the rebels into the nearby mountains of the Pulumur region. 

The Turkish government has been waging a relentless offensive against strongholds of the PKK in the southeast of the country and in neighbouring northern Iraq, while the PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, has killed dozens of police and soldiers in almost daily bomb and gunfire attacks.

Overnight air raids against PKK

Turkish warplanes struck PKK targets in northern Iraq and eastern Turkey overnight, in a new air operation against the Kurdish militant group, the army said on Sunday.

Turkish F-16 fighters hit 17 PKK positions in northern Iraq, destroying shelters used by the militant group, the army said on its website, listing three locations.

The army said in a separate statement that the jets had destroyed fuel and ammunition depots in Hakkari province on the border with Iraq as well as in eastern Kars province. 

More than 150 soldiers and police have been killed in attacks since July blamed on the PKK. 

The government, for its part, claims to have killed more than 1,000 militants, figures that have been treated with scepticism in the independent media.

The renewed violence shattered a two-year ceasefire which had stoked hopes of an end to the PKK's three-decade militancy, in which more than 40,000 people have died.

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