Turkish troops killed in clashes

Turkish soldiers patrol in Sur district, which is partially under curfew, in the Kurdish-dominated south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Sertac KayarImage copyright

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Turkish soldiers regularly patrol parts of the country’s Kurdish-dominated south east.

Several Turkish military personnel have died in clashes with Kurdish rebels near the Iraqi border, the army says.

Six soldiers were killed on the ground and two pilots who came to their aid died when their helicopter crashed.

At least six rebels were killed in the exchanges and eight Turkish soldiers wounded, according to the military.

The fighting began on Friday near the town of Cukurca, in Hakkari province. Turkey has intensified its war with Kurdish rebels in recent months.

The escalation follows the failure of a more than two-year-old peace process last July. Around 400 members of Turkey’s security forces have been killed since the violence resumed.

The Kurdish rebels – known as the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK – have targeted Turkish police and armed forces with bombs.

PKK-linked rebels have staged multiple bomb attacks against Turkish police and troops, who in turn have carried out tank-backed security operations in flashpoint areas.

On Thursday, four suspected rebels were killed while loading explosives into a truck in south-eastern Turkey. At least 10 people were injured in the blast, in the mainly Kurdish Diyarbakir province.

Earlier on Thursday, a car bomb exploded near a military facility in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, wounding at least eight people.

The PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and Western powers, is fighting for autonomy in the majority-Kurdish areas in Turkey’s south-east.

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