Turkish warplanes and artillery pounded PKK targets in northern Iraq for a second night, hours after the terrorists mounted attacks on security forces in southeastern Turkey.
The Turkish raids, the first against terrorists holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq in more than a year, mark a stark escalation of the 27-year-old conflict after the collapse of efforts toward a negotiated settlement.
The Turkish military said on Friday warplanes had attacked 28 PKK targets on Thursday in the areas of Qandil mountain, Hakurk, Avasin-Basyan and Zap.
"In coordination with the air operation, intense artillery fire was directed at 96 targets identified in the same areas," the General Staff said in a statement. "Activities in the fight against terrorism will continue decisively at home and abroad."
The military released cockpit footage showing blasts and billowing smoke as laser-guided missiles slammed into targets described as PKK shelters, stores and anti-aircraft sites during raids which drew criticism from Baghdad.
"Our position is clear: we reject violations and overstepping of borders. This issue cannot be resolved through military action," Iraq's Deputy Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi told Reuters. "Iraq should have been informed about this to find other ways to resolve this escalation."
The military had bombarded rebels a day earlier in response to a spate of terrorist attacks in recent months and an ambush on Wednesday that killed nine servicemen.
On Thursday night the PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, carried out simultaneous attacks in Turkey's southeastern Siirt province.
Rebels besieged a paramilitary gendarmerie post in Eruh, with rocket launchers and rifles, killing two officers and wounding four soldiers. Two PKK fighters were killed in subsequent clashes, security sources said.
In the nearby district of Pervari, rebels wounded four civilians during similar attacks on security installations.
The terrorists also clashed with troops in eastern Tunceli province and one PKK militant was killed, sources said.
FURTHER MILITARY ACTION EXPECTED
Some 40 Turkish security personnel have been killed in clashes in the last month and further air action was likely for as long as fighting on the ground continues.
"I think those deciding on the air operations will sustain them intermittently for as long as appropriate opportunities emerge," Nihat Ali Ozcan, a security analyst at the Ankara-based think tank TEPAV, told Reuters.
"At times like this governments have to manage not just terrorism but their own public opinion. Hence air operations, more than harming the PKK militarily, serve the government in managing public opinion," Ozcan said.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan heralded an apparent change in strategy on Wednesday, saying the government's patience had run out and those who do not distance themselves from terrorism would "pay the price."
It was not clear whether the air assaults might be a prelude to an incursion by land forces, which Turkey has sent into northern Iraq in the past to tackle PKK terrorists.
World diplomatic attention has been focused on unrest in Turkey's neighbor Syria and in Libya, where rebels are closing on leader Muammar Gaddafi's stronghold in Tripoli. But a major Turkish incursion in northern Iraq could inflame ethnic tension.
Ozcan said a short ground operation with limited targets was feasible if the government could convince the United States and the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq on the issue, but such a move was seen as unlikely.
The PKK conflict also raises domestic passions in Turkey. Further legal action could be taken against Kurdish politicians, currently boycotting parliament and accused of close links to the PKK.
Turkey's National Security Council, chaired by President Abdullah Gul, issued a written statement after a regular meeting on Thursday, saying it would adopt a "more effective and decisive fight in the fight against terrorism."