5 soldiers, guard martyred in Turkey's Bitlis province
Attacks come during ongoing security operation in province against PKK terrorist group
At least six people were martyred and five others wounded Thursday in two separate PKK terrorist attacks in eastern Turkey’s Bitlis province, a security source said.
Among those martyred in the Hizan district are five soldiers and a village guard, the source told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
In the first incident, five soldiers were martyred and four soldiers wounded when a bomb hit a military vehicle, the source added.
Separately, a village guard was shot dead and another soldier injured in the Nazar neighborhood.
The injured were taken to a nearby hospital.
An operation, backed by helicopters, targeting PKK terrorists continues in the province, it added.
The U.S. State Department condemned the "horrific" attack in Bitlis, offered condolences to the victims' families and wished a speedy recovery for the wounded.
Agency spokesman John Kirby also condemned another PKK bomb-laden vehicle attack on a police station in the eastern city of Elazig, where three police officers were martyred and hundreds injured.
"Our friend and ally Turkey has suffered several outrageous terror attacks this week, including today's," he said, referencing an attack Aug. 15 in Diyarbakir that killed seven victims, including a child, and a deadly attack in Van on Wednesday.
Kirby said the attacks are a reminder of the threat from terrorism Turks continue to face.
The White House added that it is "in close touch" with Turkish authorities and that Vice President Joe Biden would "reaffirm our commitment to Turkey’s security and democracy" during his trip to Turkey next week.
The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization also by the U.S. and the EU -- resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.
Since then, over 600 security personnel, including troops, police officers and village guards have been martyred and more than 7,000 PKK terrorists killed or neutralized in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.
*Reporting by Sener Toktas; Writing by Hatice Kesgin; Esra Kaymak Avci and Michael Hernandez contributed to this story from Washington DC.
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