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Turkey sharpens response to upsurge in Kurd violence

The banned PKK is accused of bombings throughout Turkey, prompting Turkey and Iran to shell camps on Iraq's border.

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Turkey is marshaling forces along its border with Iraq as diplomatic efforts have done little to curb a separatist Kurdish group using bases in Iraq to launch attacks against Turkish forces.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has also been accused of being behind several bombings throughout Turkey. Monday two people died and at least seven others were injured in a blast in Turkey's Mediterranean city Antalya. It came hours after three bombs went off in the resort town of Marmaris injuring 21 and another blast Sunday in Istanbul that injured six people.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility but local Marmaris officials said they suspected the outlawed PKK was involved in at least those blasts.

The attacks, if proven to have been carried out by the PKK, illustrates the strength of the group Ankara had hoped would have been quashed when the United States military invaded neighboring Iraq in 2003, which the PKK uses as a base of operations. But to the Turks' frustration, the war in Iraq seems to have only emboldened the group as fellow Iraqi Kurds just over the border have grown stronger and more autonomous since the invasion.

Following the killing of 15 of its soldiers in July, Turkey started moving a large number of troops and tanks toward its border with Iraq. Turkey, along with Iran, which has its own Kurdish rebel group to deal with, has also been shelling parts of the northern Iraqi border where the PKK has camps.

"Clearly there is a tension to this issue. The United States is paying more attention to it, but the question is whether the Turks will wait to see concrete results from the US," says Henri Barkey, an expert on Turkey at Lehigh University. "It also depends a lot on whether there are other spectacular attacks by the PKK."


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