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Friday, June 02, 2006

Turkish soldier killed in clash with Kurd rebels

TUNCELI, Turkey, June 2 (Reuters) - A Turkish soldier was killed on Friday during a military operation against guerrillas of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeast Turkey, security officials said.

They said the operation, part of an annual Spring offensive spanning several provinces of the troubled, mountainous, mainly Kurdish southeast region, was proceeding at full force, backed up by helicopter gunships.

Thousands of troops were involved in the operation and were meeting resistance from the guerrillas in some districts.

It was not immediately known whether there were any other casualties, the officials said.

Earlier this week, two soldiers and three village guards were killed in a clash with PKK fighters in Sirnak province.

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

Violence has increased in the region since the PKK called off a unilateral ceasefire in 2004.

Security forces are trying to stop PKK guerrillas based in the mountainous and mainly Kurdish northern Iraq from crossing the border into Turkey. Ankara has asked Iraqi and U.S. forces to crack down on the PKK units based inside Iraq.
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