Turkish troops kill two Kurdish guerrillas day after deadly ambush

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Turkish troops yesterday killed two Kurdish guerrillas, a day after a group of rebels launched a deadly ambush on a minibus in southeastern Turkey, local media said.

The rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, attacked a military outpost at the Iraqi border overnight, and at least two rebels were killed in the fighting, news agency Anatolia said.

On Saturday, rebels had ambushed a minibus carrying government-paid village guards and civilians, and killed 12 people, the governor of Sirnak province said. The minibus ambush took place 30 miles from Sunday's attack, but it was not immediately clear if the same rebels were involved.

The governor's office denied earlier reports that the body of a 7-year-old boy had been found near the minibus, increasing the death toll to 13, private news agency Dogan said.

Turkish troops have killed more than 20 rebels in operations over the past 15 days in the area near the border, officials said.

The rebels "started targeting civilians as a result of our security forces' determined battle," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday. "They will definitely get a response."

A pro-Kurdish party accused of having ties to the PKK rebels also condemned the ambush.

"Our government shares the responsibility (for the attack) for not taking the political measures to prevent the fighting," according to the statement by the Democratic Society Party, which has 20 lawmakers in the Parliament.

On Friday, Turkey and Iraq signed an agreement to cooperate in cracking down on separatist Kurdish rebels who have been attacking Turkey from bases in Iraq.

Despite Ankara's insistence, Iraq refused to allow Turkey to send its troops across the border to chase the Kurdish rebels.