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One soldier, 3 rebels killed in SE Turkey clash

Written by: Staff

DIYBARKIR, Turkey, June 5 (Reuters) One Turkish soldier and three Kurdish rebel fighters have been killed in clashes in mountainous southeast Turkey, officials said today.

The soldier was shot dead and eight of his comrades were injured when members of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) opened fire on them in Bingol province yesterday evening, its governor Vehbi Avuc said.

The three PKK fighters were killed today as troops, backed up by helicopters, pressed their offensive against rebels hiding in the area, a security official said.

''Operations are continuing,'' he added.

Last week, two PKK fighters, three soldiers and three village guards were killed in various clashes across Turkey's impoverished, mainly Kurdish southeast.

Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed campaign for a separate Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

Violence has ticked up since the PKK called off a unilateral ceasefire in 2004. Every spring, the Turkish army steps up operations in the southeast as the mountain snows melt and rebels based in northern Iraq cross into Turkey.

Ankara has urged US and Iraqi government forces to crack down on the PKK units holed up in the mountains of mainly Kurdish northern Iraq.

Reuters KD GC1755

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