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18 killed in car bomb in southeast Turkey

ISTANBUL — Kurdish militants detonated a car bomb Sunday outside a military checkpoint in southeast Turkey, killing 10 soldiers and eight civilians, the prime minister said. Turkey immediately launched a military operation against the rebels in response.

‘‘For the stability of our country, we will continue doing everything we can to save our homeland and our nation from the forces of terrorism,’’ said Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during a press conference.

Cuneyit Orhan Toprak, governor of Hakkari province, where the attack took place, told said 27 others were wounded in the attack. Eleven of them were soldiers, the Turkish military said.

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Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, citing a statement by the Turkish Armed Forces, said the attack occurred at 9:45 a.m. outside a checkpoint on the Semdinli-Yuksekova highway and was the work of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

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The checkpoint is 12 miles from the town of Semdinli.

Toprak said the attackers first opened fire on the soldiers at the checkpoint to distract them before driving up a minivan containing about 5 tons of explosives and detonating it. The explosion produced a crater 50 feet wide and 23 feet deep. An infantry station located behind the checkpoint also suffered heavy damage.

Turkey has been rocked by a wave of bomb attacks since last summer that have killed hundreds of people and been blamed on either the PKK or the Islamic State.

Fighting between the PKK and the state security forces resumed last year after the collapse of a fragile 2½-year cease-fire. Since then, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed in clashes, according to the Anadolu Agency.

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Rights groups say hundreds of civilians have also been killed in the fighting.

Associated Press