DIYARBAKIR - A Turkish military helicopter crashed Saturday in bad weather in the southeastern city of Siirt, killing all 17 troops on board, local officials said.

“Our helicopter hit a hill due to unfavourable weather conditions caused by a thick fog and heavy rains,” Siirt province governor Ahmet Aydin said, according to the Anatolia news agency.

The Sikorsky chopper was transporting troops to Siirt’s Pervari district, where the Turkish army has been engaged in a land operation against Kurdish rebels for three days, security sources told AFP.

The crash was not related to the clashes in the area, the governor said.

Last month a Sikorsky helicopter crashed in southeastern Diyarbakir province after it hit power lines, killing one soldier and wounding seven.

The Sikorsky choppers are frequently used to transport troops in southeast Turkey, where members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been waging a war for autonomy since 1984.

About 45,000 people, most of them Kurdish, have been killed in the fighting with the PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community.