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Middle East
Kurdish rebels storm Turkey border post
Government combat helicopters deployed after rebels attack post in Kurdish southeast, killing at least 19 combatants.
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2012 08:36

At least 19 people have been killed in southeastern Turkey after a battle between soldiers and members of a Kurdish separatist group, the local provincial governor has said.

Six soldiers, two government-paid village guards and 11 Kurdish rebels were killed in the fighting near the village of Gecimili in Hakkari province, Governor Orhan Alimoglu said on Sunday.

The incident occurred near the Iraqi border early on Sunday, he said, adding that 15 soldiers had also been wounded.

Local media reported that the rebels fired on the army outpost in Hakkari with rocket launchers just after midnight.

The military sent in reinforcement following the raid, using attack helicopters to fire on the rebels' escape routes, state-run TRT television reported.

The raid on the army post follows similar assaults in the Kurdish-dominated southeast that have prompted the army to launch an all-out offensive against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bases in the area.

The Turkish ground-and-air operation, one of the biggest in years, was launched about two weeks ago to drive out the rebels in the town of Semdinli, also in Hakkari province.

About 2,000 soldiers are involved in the offensive, private NTV television reported on Sunday.

"A serious and strong operation is under way in Semdinli," Besir Atalay, the Turkish deputy prime minister, said last week.

Fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984, when the group first took up arms.

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