69 militants, two Turkish soldiers killed

Diyarbakir, December 19

Sixty-nine Kurdish militants and two Turkish soldiers have been killed in four days of fighting across southeast Turkey as security forces ramp up operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), security sources and the military said today.

The military said Turkish warplanes taking off from their southeastern base in Diyarbakir had also bombarded PKK

camps in northern Iraq yesterday, destroying shelters and weapon posts.

A two-year ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK fell apart in July, shattering peace talks and reviving a conflict that has afflicted the mainly Kurdish southeast for three decades, killing more than 40,000 people.

One Turkish soldier was killed and another was lightly wounded today in clashes in Sur district, which has remained under a police curfew for the past two weeks, in the predominantly Kurdish Diyarbakir province.

One of two soldiers wounded in the border town of Cizre yesterday also succumbed to injuries, the army said. It said the number of Kurdish militants killed in four days of operations in Cizre and Silopi, near the Syrian and Iraqi borders, had risen to 69. The towns, both under curfew, are

central targets in Turkey’s latest anti-PKK offensive, in which media reports say 10,000 police and troops, backed by tanks, are taking part.