Kurdish rebels attack Turkish army

Kurdish rebels have fired rockets at a Turkish battalion in eastern Turkey in an overnight raid.

    Kurdish fighters have become increasingly active

    It was not clear on Wednesday whether there were any casualties or damage, officials said.

    The guerrillas attacked the infantry battalion based in the town of Digor, in the province of Kars, close to the Armenian border.

    Kurdish fighters have become increasingly active and their attacks increasingly bold over the past several months.

    Hikmet Ozyunlu, mayor of Digor, told the Anatolia news agency that he heard loud explosions, followed by machine-gun fire which caused panic in the small town surrounded by rocky hills.

    "Later, we learned that they attacked the military unit. The telephone lines were also cut in the town. They broke the peace in Digor," Ozyunlu said.

    Earlier this week, guerrillas set up a roadblock and captured a Turkish soldier in eastern Turkey. Turkey sent more than 1000 troops on a mission to look for him, but the soldier's whereabouts remain unknown.

    Kurdish guerrillas have been fighting for autonomy in the country's east and southeast since 1984. The clashes have left more than 37,000 people dead since then.

    Extradition attempt

    Meanwhile, Turkey asked the US to extradite two Turkish Muslims who were reportedly captured in Iraq on suspicion of involvement in the 2003 bombings in Turkey that killed some 60 people, police officials said on Wednesday.

    Scores were killed in blasts that
    targeted Istanbul synagogues

    The suspects, who were reportedly captured earlier this  year during fighting near the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, are being held in Abu Ghraib prison, the officials said. 

    US officials were not immediately available for comment but private NTV television said the US had not yet responded to the Turkish request.

    Police officials identified the two suspects as Sadettin Akdas, 22, and Burhan Kus, 32.

    Kus has been indicted by Turkish prosecutors on suspicion that he helped build the Istanbul truck bombs while prosecutors accuse Akdas of being a member of the cell that helped carry out the attack.

    The blasts in November 2003 killed some 60 people and targeted two synagogues - Beth Israel and Neve Shalom - as well as the British consulate and a London-based bank.

    Prison letters

    In April, the defence attorney for the two submitted a letter to the court overseeing the prosecution of bombing suspects, saying Akdas and Kus wrote to their families from Iraq saying they were being held in Abu Ghraib prison.

    Lawyer Ilhami Sayan said the Red Cross relayed the letter to his clients' families, who appealed to Turkish officials to have them brought to Turkey.

    Police said the two were among six suspects who fled to Syria a few days before the November attacks on the synagogues.

    The other four, including Akdas' brother, Habib, who is believed to be one of the masterminds of the attack, were reportedly killed fighting US troops, the Milliyet newspaper reported on Wednesday.

    Habib Akdas is believed to have met Abu Hafs al-Masri, a former top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, in 2001.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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