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Army-PKK clashes leave 4 troopers dead in SE Turkey

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The wife of a Turkish police officer, who was killed in clashes with the PKK, expresses her grief above her husband’s flag-draped coffin during his funeral in the Sur district, Diyarbakir Province, Turkey, on January 4, 2016. ©AFP

Fresh clashes between the Turkish army and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants have left four Turkish soldiers dead in the country’s restive southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

According to a statement by the Turkish army, Kurdish militants attacked the security forces with rifles and rocket launchers in Diyarbakir’s Sur district on Wednesday.

The assault prompted intense confrontation, killing three soldiers at the scene and wounding six others. One of the injured troopers succumbed to his wounds later at hospital, Turkey’s Dogan news agency reported.

Turkey’s southeast has been volatile since a shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 collapsed following the Turkish military operation against the militant group.

The Turkish government has imposed curfew in the areas that have been targeted in the army’s anti-PKK campaign.

Local authorities said on Wednesday that the 24-hour curfew in Sur, which has been in place since December last year, was expanded to cover five more neighborhoods and a main road to help the security forces remove the bombs and barricades set up by the militants.

A PKK militant stands as people leave the Sur district, Diyarbakir Province, Turkey, on January 27, 2016, following the expansion of a 24-hour curfew to new areas. ©AP

The Turkish army also said a total of 20 PKK members were killed on Tuesday in Sur and the Cizre district of Sirnak Province, bringing the total number of militants killed in the two areas to some 600 since December.

Ankara’s anti-PKK campaign began in the wake of a deadly July 20 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on Daesh Takfiri terrorist group. 

After the incident, the PKK militants, who accuse the Turkish government of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces.

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