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Turkish soldiers killed in PKK bomb attack

Rebel attack on Turkish military vehicle kills eight; two suspects arrested in separate palace attack in Istanbul

Eight Turkish soldiers were killed on Wednesday in a bomb attack on their military vehicle blamed on the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), according to government security forces. Separately, two suspects were reportedly arrested following a gun attack on a palace in Istanbul. 

The bomb — believed to have been a remotely controlled device — exploded on a highway in the mainly-Kurdish province of Siirt, in the country’s southeast, according to the state-run news outlet Anadolu Agency. The army blamed the "separatist terror organization," its customary phrase for the PKK.

Seven soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

The incidents come amid escalating violence between Turkey's security forces and Kurdish rebels, and as Turkey has been conducting operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other groups. Turkey last month rounded up more than 1,000 people linked to ISIL, the Kurdish rebels and leftist fighters.

At least 85 people, most of them police and soldiers, have been killed since July in the renewed violence between the security forces and the PKK.

An ISIL propaganda video released this week called Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a traitor for allowing the U.S. to use air bases for strikes against the group, and urged all Muslims in Turkey to join ISIL in its fight against "crusaders, atheists and tyrants." 

Meanwhile, in a separate incident on Wednesday, gunfire and a blast were heard outside the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, one of Turkey's main tourist attractions that also houses offices of the prime minister, reports said. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in Ankara at the time of the attack.

Two suspects carrying long-range weapons and a bomb were later caught by police in the vicinity of the German consulate nearby, Turkey's NTV television and the Dogan news agency reported.

Video footage released by Dogan news agency showed that a road leading to the palace had been sealed off by police. Police in Istanbul had no immediate comment on the report.

It is still unclear if there were any fatalities or injuries.

There was also no immediate indication of who was behind the attack, which appeared to target the soldiers who stand on ceremonial guard outside the Ottoman-era palace during the day.

Al Jazeera and wire services. Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith contributed to this report from Istanbul.

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