Turkey battles PKK in southeast

Media captionHundreds have died and thousands have been displaced since a ceasefire broke down in July.

Security forces have killed 20 Kurdish militants in clashes southeastern Turkey, the Turkish military said.

Three Turkish soldiers also died in a rebel attack, the military said.

Hundreds of residents have fled parts of the city of Diyarbakir that are under curfew amid heavy fighting.

The region has suffered its worst violence in two decades since a ceasefire between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) collapsed in July.

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The PKK, which has fought for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority for decades, has been attacking security forces, while the army has been besieging Kurdish-dominated towns.

The army said 11 PKK members had died in the town of Cizre near the Syrian border and nine had been killed in the Sur district of Diyarbakir – bringing the overall death toll to about 600 since the beginning of a security operation last month.

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Many residents have fled the district of Sur

The three soldiers were killed in Sur during an attack using rifles and a rocket launcher, the army added.

The Turkish Human Rights Foundation says at least 198 civilians, including 39 children, have died in areas under curfew since August.

The European Union has called for an immediate ceasefire.

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party, rights groups and a doctors’ association have also demanded that the Turkish authorities allow emergency services to reach a building in Cizre.

More than 25 people are reported to be sheltering there – four people have died, and three more are in a critical condition.

But the local governor’s office said emergency services were unable to enter the area because of the PKK.

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PKK militants have set up barricades inside Sur

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK):

  • The group, which has Marxist-Leninist roots, was formed in the late 1970s
  • It launched an armed struggle against the Turkish government in 1984, calling for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey
  • Since then, more than 40,000 people have died. During the conflict, which reached a peak in the mid-1990s, thousands of villages were destroyed in the largely Kurdish south-east and east of Turkey, and hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled to cities in other parts of the country
  • In the 1990s, the organisation rolled back on its demands for an independent Kurdish state, calling instead for more autonomy for the Kurds
  • It suffered a major blow in 1999, when its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was arrested and jailed for treason
  • In March 2013, he called a ceasefire and urged PKK forces to withdraw from Turkey
  • The ceasefire appeared to be over in July 2015 when Turkey launched air strikes against PKK camps in northern Iraq

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