Turkey PKK violence
Villagers search for bodies of Turkish soldiers inside a destroyed armoured vehicle near Daglica District, TurkeyAFP/Getty

A conflict between Turkey and Kurdish rebels is escalating, as a police bus has been hit by bomb while government forces intensified air strikes against militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Numerous casualties were reported as an explosive device went off on a road in the eastern province of Igdir. Early reports from the scene said at least 10 police officers in a vehicle heading to the Azerbaijani border were killed in the blast near the village of Hasankoy.

Local media blamed PKK militants for the attack. PKK fighters were the target of government warplanes that bombed rebel positions in northern Iraq overnight. More than 40 fighter jets took part in the operation that resulted in the death of dozens militants, government officials told Reuters news agency.

The air strikes were launched in response to an earlier PKK roadside bombing on an army convoy near the village of Daglica, in the south-eastern Hakkari province bordering Iran and Iraq, which killed 16 soldiers. In the wake of the attack, Turkey's prime minister pledged to annihilate PKK militants targeting theirs strongholds anywhere.

"We will continue our struggle against terrorism in a determined manner, without making any concessions on democracy or the rule of law," Ahmet Davutoglu said. "Those mountains will be cleared of the terrorists. The mountains, the plains, the highlands and the cities of this country will not be left in the hands of the terrorists."

The Daglica bombing was the deadliest attack since hostilities between the PKK and the government flared up earlier this summer, bringing an end to a two-year-old ceasefire.

In July, Ankara pledged to wage war on all terrorism in the wake of a suicide bombing that killed 32 socialist youth volunteers in the southern city of Suruc, on the Turkish side of the Syrian border. The massacre was blamed on Islamic State (Isis), which is fighting against Kurdish militias in Iraq and Syria.

Shortly afterwards, the PKK, a banned Marxist-Leninist separatist movement that accuses Turkey's President Erdogan of tolerating or even supporting IS as an indirect way of curbing Kurdish hopes to form an independent state, carried out a spree of retaliatory deadly attacks on Turkish security forces.

In response, Ankara ended its long reluctance to get directly involved in the Syrian conflict, launching a campaign against IS, while also clamping down on the PKK at home as well as targeting its Kurdish allies across the border.