Turkish PM calls off Mongolia visit after PKK attack

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is visiting Turkmenistan said he had cancelled a planned trip to Mongolia after being informed of a rebel attack onTurkish soldiers, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Saturday.

Addressing Turkish citizens living in Ashkabat, Erdogan said hewas saddened by the death of 15 Turkish soldiers and wounding of 20 others in the assault staged by the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), adding he would be back to Turkey shortly to assess the situation.

He said two soldiers were missing and 23 PKK terrorists killed during the attack which targeted the Aktutun Gendarmerie Border Unit in the southeastern province of Hakkari, noting that the unithad also been struck by PKK terrorists in May.

Erdogan said the government shared the same determination displayed by the security forces, adding that they would reassess counter-terrorist measures and continue the fight against the terrorist organization PKK.

Erdogan was earlier scheduled to return to Turkey on Monday after visiting Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia.

Turkey has conducted frequent air raids on suspected positions of the PKK in northern Iraq. In February, it also launched an eight-day ground incursion into Iraq.

The PKK, listed by the United States and Turkey as a terrorist group, took up arms in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey. Some 40,000 people have been killed in the over-two-decade conflict.

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