Turkish soldier killed in rebel landmine blast

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TUNCELI, Turkey, Oct 29 (Reuters) A Turkish solder was killed today in an explosion triggered by a landmine laid by Kurdish rebels, security forces said.

The incident occurred during a military operation involving some 8,000 troops battling rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Tunceli province in eastern Turkey.

Army sources yesterday said troops killed 20 PKK guerrillas in the mountainous region, hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the Iraqi border where Turkey has up to 100,000 troops poised to strike against PKK rebels based in northern Iraq.

The United States, Turkey's NATO ally, and the Baghdad government have urged Ankara not to stage a major cross-border incursion, but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government is under public pressure to act after a series of PKK attacks which have killed about 40 Turkish soldiers in the past month alone.

The nationalist mood in Turkey, already fuelled by the separatist attacks, was at fever pitch today as President Abdullah Gul led Turks in marking the 84th anniversary of the founding of the secular republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Cities, towns and villages across the Muslim country of 75 million people were festooned with flags and portraits of the revered Ataturk.

REUTERS SYU KP1332

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