Europe

Turkey Kurdish clashes 'kill 17'

Turkish helicopter in south-eastern Turkey, 19 June 2010
Image caption Tension has recently flared in south-eastern Turkey

Seventeen people have been killed in fighting between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels in south-eastern Turkey, military officials say.

Those killed include 12 Kurdish rebels, two soldiers and three members of a government-allied militia.

The fighting broke out overnight in Siirt province when rebels attacked a military unit, the military said.

Violence has recently escalated in south-eastern Turkey, with repeated clashes between rebels and the army.

The latest clashes erupted late on Wednesday. Four soldiers were wounded when rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) attacked a military unit in a rural area of Siirt, near Turkey's border with Iraq, and two of them later died, according to the army's report.

Peace push abandoned

The three guards from the government-paid militia were killed when rebels ambushed them nearby, a military statement said.

Helicopters then attacked rebels as they tried to flee, killing 12, the statement said. There has been no confirmation of the deaths from the PKK.

The PKK began its armed struggle against the Turkish government in 1984, and is fighting for autonomy in Turkey's largely Kurdish south-east.

A move by the Turkish government last year to seek peace with the Kurds appears to have been abandoned, and the the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, announced in May that he had given up all hope of dialogue.

Dozens of soldiers and rebels have been killed in clashes in the south-east in recent weeks.

Last week, Kurdish rebels also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a bus carrying military personnel near Istanbul in which five officials and a teenage girl were killed.

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