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Turkish troops kill seven Kurd militants in S.East

By Staff
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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Feb 24 (Reuters) Turkish security forces have killed seven Kurdish guerrillas in the country's troubled southeast, security sources said today.

They said the rebels, members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), were killed during a gun battle in the province of Mardin near the Syrian border yesterday night.

The operations by the Turkish troops ended around noon 1530 hrs and two PKK shelters were destroyed, the sources said.

Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed struggle for an independent Kurdish state in southeast Turkey in 1984.

The PKK is classed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.

Turkish police also told a weekly news conference in Ankara today that Turkey's eastern neighbour Iran had handed over 10 PKK militants during 2005.

''Iran handed over the PKK militants to us as part of the ongoing cooperation between the two countries,'' police spokesman Ismail Caliskan said.

Iran handed 28 PKK rebels to Turkey in 2004, he added.

An estimated 5,000 PKK rebels are holed up in the mountains of mainly Kurdish northern Iraq. Turkey has been pressing U.S.

troops based in Iraq to crack down on the organisation.

REUTERS CH PC1929

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