Turkish security forces have killed 12 Kurdish rebels in fighting, including two women who attempted to infiltrate from neighbouring Iraq, local security sources said.

The cross-border clashes erupted overnight on Monday on the second day of a large-scale operation launched by Turkish security forces in the southeastern town of Semdinli, they said.

The fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) had targeted a military post on the Turkish-Iraqi border, they added.

Semdinli is often the scene of intense fighting between Turkish forces and members of the PKK.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, said last month 144 members of the security forces and 239 rebels had been killed since the start of the year, marking one of the deadliest phases of the confrontation in more than a decade.

In all, about 45,000 people have been killed since the PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms for autonomy in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984.

Turkish jets also sometimes violate Iraqi airspace to strike rebel hideouts in northern Iraq.

The government asked parliament on Monday to renew the mandate for its armed forces to attack Kurdish rebel bases in Iraq for another year.

Source: Agencies