TURKISH warplanes have bombed Kurdish insurgent targets after the militants staged what appeared to be their deadliest attack since the collapse of a two-year-old ceasefire in July, and claimed to have killed 31 government soldiers.

The military confirmed soldiers had been killed but gave no number. Its operations continued on Monday, with helicopters dropping special forces near the Iraqi frontier, while drones sought out targets for the warplanes.

The clashes, weeks before polls the ruling AK Party hopes will restore its majority, threaten to sink a peace process president Tayyip Erdogan launched in 2012 in an attempt to end an insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels said they had killed 31 members of the armed forces in an attack on a convoy and clashes on Sunday in the mountainous Daglica area of Hakkari province, near the Iraqi border.

A security source said that 16 soldiers had been killed.

Erdogan said in an interview late on Sunday on the A Haber TV channel that Turkey would now become more determined in its fight against the PKK. He said 2,000 PKK militants had been killed since the conflict resumed in July.

Uncertainty arising from the conflict, coinciding with a campaign against Islamic State militants based in Syria, has unnerved investors, with the lira dropping to record lows against the dollar.

The unrest has raised questions over how security can be guaranteed for the November 1 vote, but Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for over a decade and now seeks a parliamentary mandate to extend his executive powers, said the election would go ahead.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), accused by the government of being bound to the PKK, called for a renewed ceasefire and an extraordinary parliamentary meeting. Party leader Selahattin Demirtas ended a European visit, saying there was no justification for killing.

“We will not surrender to war policies which only deem death proper for the people’s poor children and splatter blood on the mothers’ dreams of peace,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to the Daglica attack and conflict in the south-eastern town of Cizre.

Local media reports said a lieutenant colonel in command of the Daglica battalion was among those killed.

“Two of our armoured vehicles suffered heavy damage after the detonation of hand-made explosives on the road,” the military said in a statement.

The military said two F-16 and two F-14 jets struck 13 PKK targets and operations were continuing “decisively” despite very poor weather after the attack, which occurred as security forces were clearing roadside bombs planted by the PKK.

The security source said that after the militants detonated explosives along the road, a clash broke out between the soldiers and fighters from the PKK, designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and United States.

Prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu chaired an emergency meeting with military and intelligence chiefs and ministers on Sunday night in Ankara following the attack.

“The pain of our security forces who were martyred in the treacherous attack by the terrorist organisation sears our hearts,” Erdogan said in a statement.

After he spoke, some 200 people chanting pro-Erdogan slogans attacked the Hurriyet newspaper’s offices in Istanbul, accusing it of misquoting him and implying that the president was trying to gain political capital from the Daglica attack.