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Turkish military kills 14 PKK militants in southeast

Militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) stand at a barricade in Sirnak, Turkey, December 23, 2015. (AP photo)

Turkish security forces have killed at least 14 members of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group in the country’s Kurdish-majority southeast.

The army announced the death toll on Tuesday as its operation against the Kurdish militants has entered its third week.

The PKK militants were killed in the district of Sur in the province of Diyarbakir, as well as in the towns of Cizre and Silopi on Monday. Heavy curfews have been imposed on these areas since last month.

According to the Turkish military, nearly 300 militants have been killed since December 14, 2015, when the anti-terrorism operations by Turkish armed forces intensified.

Since late July 2015, Turkey’s southeastern regions have witnessed a spike in violence amid heavy confrontations between army forces and the PKK, an outlawed group that have been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since 1980s.

People carry a sick person through the barricades set up by the militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Nusaybin, Turkey, Thursday, December 24, 2015. (AP photo)

On July 20, a bomb attack in the southern Kurdish-majority town of Suruc claimed more than 30 lives. The Turkish government blamed it on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group. After the bombing, the PKK, accusing the government of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.

Ankara’s military has also been involved in an offensive against positions of the Kurdish group in neighboring Iraq.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently said that the operations in southeast would continue unabated, adding that more than 3,000 PKK members have been killed in 2015 in the unprecedented fighting.

Critics of the operation, including the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), say all those killed in the crackdown are not militants, updating a list of names showing that civilians have also been among the victims.

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