Two Turkish gendarme killed in mine blast

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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Sep 27 (Reuters) Two Turkish gendarme officers were killed when a mine laid by Kurdish separatists exploded in Bitlis province in eastern Turkey, security sources said today.

The deaths come days after a bomb was detonated outside a police outpost in the province of Tunceli, killing one security official and injuring four others.

Four militants from the illegal Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were also killed in a firefight on Tuesday.

Turkish troops have stepped up operations against the separatist PKK ahead of the winter, when violence tends to subside in the mountainous region, while Ankara is urging the United States to deal with rebels based in northern Iraq.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union, and the United States and Turkey blame it for more than 30,000 deaths, mostly Kurds, since 1984, when it started an armed campaign for an ethnic homeland.

Reuters SS RN1502

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