“In searches of a cave, which was taken under control after intense clashes, the bodies of 13 of our abducted citizens were found,” Akar said from an operations center in Sirnak on the Turkish side of the border.
The victims had been killed at the start of the operation to seize the cave complex, Akar said, adding that “all the terrorists in the cave… have been neutralized.”
The identity of the Turkish citizens was not revealed and Akar said their kidnapping had not previously been disclosed due to security reasons.
There was no immediate statement from the PKK on the killings.
Operation Claw-Eagle 2 led to the deaths of 48 PKK militants, including three senior members, and the capture of two insurgents, Akar said.
Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler said the operation covered an area of 75 kilometers by 25 kilometers (47 miles by 15 miles), one of the largest areas to be targeted in recent campaigns against the PKK.
The cave where the hostages were held was discovered on the third day of the operation, he said. The underground system, which had three entrances and nine separate chambers, was manned by ten insurgents, two of whom were captured before the cave was stormed by Turkish troops.
Ammunition stores and PKK bases in the mountainous region were destroyed in the operation, which deployed air strikes and helicopter-borne soldiers. The PKK uses bases in northern Iraq to launch cross-border attacks against Turkey.
Three Turkish troops died during the operation and three were wounded, Akar said.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union, began an insurgency in Turkey’s majority Kurdish southeast region in 1984.
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