Tensions Rise in Turkey as Five Killed in Kurdish Militant Attacks

Kurdish militants have been accused for a long time of committing acts of violence in Turkey. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar

ANKARA (Nov 11)  A street cleaner in southeastern Turkey was killed on Wednesday by flying shrapnel and a police officer was wounded after his armoured vehicle drove over an explosive device thought to have been laid by Kurdish militants, security sources said.

The blast in the town of Dargecit in Mardin province came after three policemen were killed late on Tuesday in the town of Silopi, near the Syrian and Iraqi borders, when Kurdish insurgents opened fire on their car, officials said.

The southeast has been rocked by a spate of clashes with insurgents that has left hundreds dead since a two-year-old ceasefire between the Turkish state and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants broke down in July.

Security sources said a wide scale operation against the PKK militants started after the attack late on Tuesday, and one police officer was being treated for his wounds.

Also on Tuesday, one Turkish soldier was killed and 20 others were injured in two separate attacks in the region.

Areas of the southeast have been intermittently subject to round-the-clock curfews in response to the conflict. Security sources said six people had died in clashes in the town of Silvan in Diyarbakir province since a curfew was imposed there eight days ago.

Last Thursday, the PKK ended a month-old ceasefire it had declared before the Nov. 1 election. That vote was won by the AK Party of President Tayyip Erdogan, who subsequently vowed to fight the PKK until all fighters were “liquidated”.

Erdogan has overseen a peace process launched with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in late 2012 but talks were frozen in April.

The PKK, which wants autonomy for Turkey’s large Kurdish minority, is listed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the United States and European Union. It took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurdish militants, have died in the conflict.

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