Turkish police cordon off a building where two of their colleagues were shot dead by Kurdish militants in Ceylanpinar, on July 22, 2015
Ankara (AFP) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Ankara cannot continue the peace process with the Kurds in the face of attacks against Turkish targets.
"It is not possible to carry on the (peace) process with those who target our national unity and brotherhood," Erdogan told a news conference at an Ankara airport before leaving for a visit to China.
"Those who exploit the tolerance of the state and the people will receive the answer they deserve as soon as possible," he said.
Turkey, which considers the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) a terrorist organisation, launched peace negotiations with its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan in late 2012 when Erdogan was prime minister.
But the process has been left in tatters after a bombing blamed on Islamic State militants in a mainly Kurdish border town last week that killed 32 people and triggered revenge attacks by Kurdish militants against Turkish security forces.
Since then, Ankara has launched strikes against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria as well as PKK positions in northern Iraq.
The PKK warned after the aerial bombardments that the truce in Turkey, which has largely been observed since March 2013, has now lost all meaning.
Heartened by Ankara's readiness to step up its fight against IS, the United States backed the right of its NATO ally to bomb the PKK which Turkey and the West categorise as a terror group.
The PKK launched its armed campaign for self rule in 1984 and since then tens of thousands of people have died.
Erdogan on Tuesday vowed to press ahead with anti-IS and anti-PKK operations.
"Any step back is out of the question. This is a process and this process will continue with the same determination."
NATO vowed strong support for Turkey's fight against "terrorism" at an emergency meeting Tuesday called to discuss Ankara's strikes against the IS fighters and Kurdish rebels.
Erdogan also said the formation of an "IS-free" safe zone in the north of war-torn Syria would help the return of many refugees.
"The clearance of those regions and the creation of a safe zone there will lay the ground for 1.7 million citizens here to return home," he said.
- PKK attacks on rise -
After the air strikes against PKK bases in northern Iraq, attacks on Turkish soil blamed on Kurdish militants have intensified.
The military said an army sergeant was shot dead by a Kurdish militant near the Iraqi border Tuesday -- a day after gunmen killed a paramilitary police commander.
Erdogan won plaudits for introducing reforms for Turkey's Kurdish minority and many Kurds had backed his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
But in the June 7 election, the AKP lost its overall majority for the first time since it came to power in 2002 and Erdogan failed to win backing for his ambition to create a presidential system.
But in a breakthrough for Kurds, the pro-Kurdish HDP party, which the AKP charges is a PKK front, won 80 seats thanks to support from non-Kurdish voters, wrecking AKP hopes of a big majority.
The HDP is now accusing Erdogan of trying to force early elections to attract the nationalist vote and increase the AKP representation in parliament.
"There is no single crime that can be attributed to us. Our only crime is to win 13 percent of the vote," the party's co-chair Selahattin Demirtas said.
"One of the main objectives of the current air, land and media operations is to harm the HDP in early elections," he said.
Erdogan said on Tuesday he was against closing the HDP but that lawmakers linked with the PKK must be stripped of their immunity and face prosecution.