One soldier, 3 Kurd rebels killed in east Turkey

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TUNCELI, Turkey, Nov 7 (Reuters) Turkish troops killed three Kurdish guerrillas today in an operation launched in response to a rebel attack on a police post late yesterday which killed one soldier, security sources said.

Turkish special forces began the operation in the eastern province of Tunceli against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants after the late night attack, which also injured one soldier, the sources said.

The PKK attack came a day after US President George W Bush told Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that Washington was committed to countering the group, which both countries consider a terrorist organisation.

The two countries said they planned to share intelligence on PKK activities to be able to hunt down and stop the rebels attacking targets within Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.

The statements helped ease concerns about an imminent major Turkish military operation against the PKK in northern Iraq, although Erdogan said after meeting Bush in Washington that action against the PKK was still planned. He did not specify the size of an operation.

Turkey has assembled 100,000 troops on the border, readying to cross into northern Iraq where some 3,000 PKK guerrillas are based.

The deaths of more than 40 soldiers in recent weeks has sparked a public outcry in Turkey.

Washington has urged NATO-ally Turkey not to carry out a major offensive, fearing it could destabilise northern Iraq and escalate into a bigger regional crisis.

Nearly 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict that began in 1984 when PKK guerrillas took up arms to fight for a Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey.

REUTERS PD RR BD1707

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