Turkish air force hits Kurds in Iraq

ANKARA (Reuter) - Turkish aircraft killed at least 70 rebel Kurds 20 kms (13 miles) inside Iraq in their first cross- border raid in two months, officials said yesterday.

The Armed Forces spokesman, Colonel Dogu Silahcioglu, said the aircraft had attacked about 100 men of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who had been preparing for a guerrilla raid in Turkey. 'We will continue to hit northern Iraq as necessary,' he said. Turkish forces often mount air strikes on the PKK in Turkey and in northern Iraq. The campaign was intensified this year after the Prime Minister, Tansu Ciller, vowed to control 'separatist terrorism'. About 2,250 PKK guerrillas have been killed in Turkey this year, according to officials.

Iraqi Kurds helped Turkey to drive the PKK from its bases in northern Iraq in 1992, but the PKK has since begun to regroup. Turkey is the main supply route to the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, where the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) share power.