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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Kurdish rebels 'announce truce'


A Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy in south-east Turkey has declared a unilateral ceasefire, a pro-Kurdish news agency has reported.

The Firat agency said the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) truce would take effect from Sunday.

PKK fighters would not use their weapons unless Turkish troops fired on them, the agency reported.

The PKK's conflict with Turkey has claimed more than 30,000 lives since it began in 1984.

Erdogan firm

The declaration came after the PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, called on Thursday for the organisation to seek a peaceful solution with Turkey.

The Turkish government has previously said it will pursue the Kurdish militant group until it is eliminated or surrenders.

On Friday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected Ocalan's ceasefire call.

Mr Erdogan said a truce was only possible between two states, describing the PKK as a "terrorist organisation".

A spate of bomb attacks hit Turkey over the past month, some of them blamed on a group called the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (Tak), regarded as an offshoot of the PKK.

As violent attacks by the PKK have escalated in recent weeks, Turkey has been talking tougher than ever, even threatening military intervention in northern Iraq where the group has its bases, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul says.

The PKK has been classed as a terror group by the European Union and the US, as well as by Turkish authorities.
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