ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Kurdish rebels claimed they killed 18 soldiers in an attack launched in retaliation for a death sentence imposed on their leader, a Kurdish news agency said Saturday.

Rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, said they pounded a Turkish military outpost near the town of Yusekova with bombs, the Germany-based DEM news agency reported.

The report did not say when the attack took place. There was no military confirmation of the fighting, which could not be independently verified.

The rebels said the operation was in response to a death sentence issued last month against PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and for ``the memory of all ... guerrillas killed'' in the 15-year conflict, DEM said.

A court sentenced Ocalan to death for treason and separatism for leading a war for autonomy in southeast Turkey. The sentence is being appealed.

Some 37,000 people have been killed in the conflict.