ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — An avalanche hit Turkish soldiers conducting military operations against Kurdish rebels in Turkey’s southeast on Sunday, killing five of them and injuring 12 others, officials said.
The avalanche occurred near the town of Hizan in southeastern Turkey’s mountainous Bitlis province, according to the governor’s office for the region.
The soldiers were conducting operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a Kurdish rebel group, the governor’s office said.
The private Dogan news agency said the troops were on a mission to locate and destroy shelters used by PKK fighters. Military units and search-and-rescue teams were dispatched to the area after the avalanche.
The injured soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Hizan and in the province’s main city of Bitlis, but were not in serious condition, the governor’s office said.
The PKK has waged an insurgency in southeast Turkey for three decades. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.