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Army kills 14 Kurdish rebels in eastern Turkey

Written by: Staff
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TUNCELI, Turkey, Mar 25 (Reuters) Turkey's armed forces killed 14 militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the biggest operation against the separatist group so far this year, army sources said today.

A large operation began two days ago in the eastern Turkish province of Mus, with the army using gunships against the rebels, the sources said.

''With the start of spring the PKK has started its preparations for attacks and the biggest military operation so far this year was started,'' an army official told Reuters.

Operations are still continuing in the region.

Three army brigades from central and western Turkey have arrived in the southeast to join fresh attacks against the PKK near the Iraqi border, said the same official.

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.

An estimated 5,000 PKK rebels are holed up in the mountains of mainly Kurdish northern Iraq.

Turkey has been pressing US troops based in Iraq to crack down on the organisation and repeated that call during a visit to Ankara this week by General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

REUTERS SHR KN2139

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