Nine people have been killed in two separate clashes overnight, including six members of Turkey’s security forces and three Kurdish fighters, officials have said.
Three special force police officers and three Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters were killed on Saturday when gunbattles broke out along a highway in the remote province of Hakkari bordering Iraq and Iran, security sources said.
In a separate incident in Bitlis province. northwest of Hakkari, three state-backed Kurdish village guards were killed
when clashes broke out between PKK fighters around 30km from the provincial capital, the governor’s office said.
One Turkish soldier and three village guards were also wounded.
Village guards are part of a local force that operates in towns and villages in eastern and southeastern Turkey where PKK fighters are most active.
The PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the European Union, has carried out a spate of
attacks on military targets in the past few months, stepping up a conflict that has entered its 28th year.
Fighting between the army and the PKK intensified over the summer, a development which Ankara sees as linked to the chaos in neighbouring Syria.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, has accused Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad of arming the PKK fighters. A claim the PKK denies.
The fighting in Turkey over the past months was some of the heaviest since the PKK took up arms against the state in 1984.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.