The Turkish military on Sunday said that it had discovered the bodies of 13 of its citizens.
The 13 bodies were found in an operation against the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq, where it is headquartered in the remote Qandil mountain range.
According to the army, the 13 Turks, whose bodies were discovered in a cave, had been kidnapped in an incident that was not made public due to its sensitive nature.
“I wish we had been able to bring our citizens out of there safely,” Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.
Twelve of the 13 people were found to have been killed by gunshots on the head, while the 13th had a gunshot wound on the shoulder, he added.
Two members of the PKK, who were apprehended by Turkish forces, said that the 13 had been executed shortly before the start of a Turkish military operation in the region.
The PKK has not released a statement about the incident.
The PKK is designated a terrorist organisation in Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Tens of thousands have died in the decades-old conflict between the PKK and Turkey.
After a peace process collapsed in 2015, ending a two-year ceasefire, the government said it would not return to talks with the group.
Since then, Turkey has regularly targeted the PKK in the predominantly Kurdish south-east and attacked the group’s positions in northern Iraq. (dpa/NAN)