Turkey is working on a plan to create professional army units to combat PKK militants, its defence minister said on Wednesday after an increase in attacks in the southeast of the country.
The revived 26-year-old insurgency has fuelled debate about such a move to counter attacks by PKK miliatnts, who frequently launch cross-border raids from camps in the mountains of northern Iraq.
Turkey's army, the second largest in NATO, largely consists of young conscripts who serve for up to 15 months, whereas the soldiers who sign up for the special units will serve for 5 to 10 years.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan shared details of the plan with an opposition party leader on Tuesday, saying a professionally-trained army would be in charge of border security, media reports said.
Ankara has repeatedly called for more intelligence support from Iraq and the United States in fighting the militants. Tens of thousands of soldiers are already based along the border.
Under the plan, around 150 new military outposts would be built in the mountainous border region, reports said.
The size of the news units was unclear.
Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul confirmed the report in comments to reporters on Wednesday.
"The General Staff is working on the project. The General Staff's work has not been sent to us but our colleagues are working on the legal side," Gonul was quoted as saying by state-run Anatolian news agency.
Gonul said work was focusing on whether a new law would be needed and what training and education the soldiers would require.
PKK occured in 1984 with the aim of creating an independent Kurdish state, has flared up since the group ended a 14-month unilateral ceasefire in June.
Nearly 100 security personnel have been killed as a result of the PKK attacks so far this year, already exceeding last year's death toll. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, including some 30,000 fighers from the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 15 Temmuz 2010, 10:07