Five Kurdish rebels killed in southeastern Turkey

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TUNCELI, Turkey, Sep 21 (Reuters) Five Kurdish guerrillas were killed in an operation by thousands of Turkish troops near the Iraqi border, an army official said today.

Turkish troops backed by helicopters are chasing a group of up to 40 guerrillas of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party in southeastern Sirnak province.

Ten guerrillas and a soldier have been killed so far this week in operations against guerrillas operating in the mountains of eastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Army sources said the operations would continue.

The PKK launched an armed campaign against the Turkish army in 1984 with the aim of carving out an ethnic Kurdish homeland.

More than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, which subsided for several years after the capture of the group's leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1999.

Fighting has flared up again in the last couple of years with large numbers of the militants crossing the border from northern Iraq, where they are holed up in mountain bases.

REUTERS AK PM0245

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