Turkish forces retaliated against those carrying out the attack and three PKK fighters were killed, says ministry of defence.

Kurdish rebels have launched a mortar attack on a Turkish military base in northern Iraq, wounding a Turkish soldier who later died in hospital.

Turkey’s defence ministry said in a statement its forces immediately retaliated against those carrying out the attack and three Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters were “neutralised”, a term commonly used to mean killed.

“One of our heroic soldiers was seriously injured in a mortar attack by PKK terrorists on one of our bases. He was taken to hospital where he could not be saved,” the defence ministry said on Thursday.

“We immediately retaliated and according to first information received, three terrorists were neutralised,” adding the attack occurred in an area close to the Turkish border.

Turkish forces frequently conduct operations against PKK rear bases in northern Iraq.

Turkey launched an offensive in April – by air and sometimes land – targeting PKK installations in Iraq. Ankara considers the PKK a “terrorist” organisation.

The PKK’s pan-Kurdish agenda – for a homeland straddling Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran – has often put it at odds with northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish government, which has sought to maintain good relations with Ankara.

Turkish troops have maintained a network of bases in neighbouring northern Iraq since the mid-1990s on the basis of security agreements struck with Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The PKK has waged a rebellion in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey since 1984 that has killed more than 40,000 people.

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