Diyarbakir: Six Kurdish rebels and
six policemen have been killed during a massive operation
targetting PKK militants in south-eastern Turkey, security
sources said on Thursday.
Backed by helicopters and fighter jets, thousands of
security forces, including police and the army, were
participating in the largest anti-rebel operation so far this
year which began on Tuesday, they said.
The clashes were still continuing today on the outskirts
of Mount Cudi in Sirnak province, near the Syrian and Iraqi
Special police forces have lately played a much bigger
role in the fight against the rebel Kurdistan Workers` Party
(PKK), a task mostly handled by soldiers in the past.
The operation is the biggest since Turkish air strikes
killed 34 Kurdish smugglers near the Iraqi border in December
when commanders mistook them for PKK fighters.
Most of the victims were less than 20 years old.
Turkey in October launched a major air and land offensive
against the rebels in the southeast of the country and in
northern Iraq after 24 of its troops were killed in a
night-time ambush by rebels.
In recent months, the government has also intensified
pressure on alleged sympathisers of Kurdish separatist rebels.
The drive is part of a crackdown on the banned Kudish
Communities Union (KCK), suspected to be the political wing of
Turkish authorities accuse the group of trying to topple
state institutions in the south and southeast and trying to
foment a rebellion.
Since 2009, about 700 people -- including lawmakers,
intellectuals and mayors -- have been arrested for alleged
links to the KCK, according to the government. Kurdish sources
however put the number at around 3,500.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and
by much of the international community, took up arms in
Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a
conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives. (AFP)