Turkey began burying the 15 soldiers killed in Friday’s bloody attack by outlawed PKK separatists as country’s civilian and military leaders vowed to step up efforts to end terror. Tens of thousands of people gathered around the country to attend the funerals and protest terror. (UPDATED)
The flag-draped coffins of the killed soldiers were carried on the shoulders of fellow soldiers and family members amid calls for tougher action against the outlawed terror organization.
The large crowds gathered waved flags and shouted, "Damn the PKK, the martyrs are immortal," ahead of the service.
President Abdullah Gul attended a funeral service held in the western city of Eskisehir, while Erdogan and Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen participated in ceremonies in the central city of Kirikkale and Mersin province in the south, respectively.
The fighting, the bloodiest this year, prompted calls for Ankara to hit back at the outlawed PKK who use the Kurdish-run autonomous north of Iraq as a springboard for attacks on Turkish targets across the border.
ANKARA'S DECISIVE RESPONSE
After emergency talks in Ankara late Saturday, civilian and military leaders vowed to stamp out the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
"Our struggle against terrorism will be pursued under all conditions and above all other concerns through effective cooperation between state bodies and every measure will be implemented with determination," they said in a statement.
Friday's attack came ahead of a critical voting in the Turkish parliament on a new proposal on to extend for another year a mandate giving its military authorization for cross-border operations against PKK bases in northern Iraq.
Under a one-year parliamentary authorization obtained last October, the army has carried out several air strikes and a week-long ground offensive against PKK targets, using intelligence passed on by NATO ally United States.
Turkey’s General Staff is set to hold a news conference Sunday about the attack and the military’s counter-terrorism operations in southeastern Turkey and in northern Iraq.