Turkey considers response after deadly rebel ambush on soldiers

Senior military and government officials began talks Sunday evening at the presidential palace in Ankara to consider a military strike against Kurdish rebel bases in Iraq after a deadly ambush on Turkish soldiers.

Attack in southeastern Turkey leaves 12 soldiers dead

Senior military and government officials begantalksSunday evening at the presidential palace in Ankara toconsider a military strike against Kurdish rebel bases in Iraq after a deadly ambush onTurkish soldiers.

The meeting under President Abdullah Gul followedclashes earlierin the day near the Iraqi border in southeast Turkey, prompted by anattack on a Turkish military patrol.

Turkish artillery units shelledrebel positions in northernIraqin retaliation for an ambushthat killed at least 12 soldiers and injured 16 others.

The Turkish military said its troops, backed by helicopter gunships,killed 32 rebels belonging tothe outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Rebelswith the separatist group took eight soldiers hostage during their attack, according to the pro-PKK Firat news agency.

However, Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul denied any soldiers had been kidnapped.

The fightingwas expected toincrease pressure on the Turkish government to stage attacks against guerrilla camps in Iraq.

On Wednesday, Turkey's parliament voted to authorize cross-border military raids over the next year targeting PKKrebels.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Sunday urged the PKK to stop its attacks amid fears a Turkish incursion would destabilize the relatively peaceful autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

"We have appealed to the PKK to desist fighting and to transform themselves from military organizations into civilian and political ones," Talabani said. "But if theyinsist on the continuation of fighting, they should leave Kurdistan, Iraq, and not create problems here."

Talabani's call on therebels to lay down their arms or get out of Iraq is the strongest indication to date of his frustration with the rebels' actions and his wish to distance himself, as well as Iraq's Kurds, from the rebels.

Iraq's national parliament, meanwhile, voted unanimously Sunday to adopt a resolution rejecting the use of force by Turkey to settle the border crisis and calling on the PKK guerrillas to leave Iraq.

"I feel sorry about today's incident," Talabani said, alluding to Sunday's clashes. "I regret the shedding of blood, whether it is Turkish or Kurdish," he said, adding that he will meet Tuesday with Turkey's foreign minister, Ali Babacan.

He did not say where the meeting would take place.

With files from the Associated Press