Nine Kurdish guerrillas, three soldiers killed in south-east Turkey

Türkiye Materials 1 April 2008 16:25 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Nine Kurdish separatists and three Turkish soldiers were killed Monday night in fighting which took place in south-east Turkey, the Turkish General Staff said on Tuesday.

The clash took place in the Bestler and Dereber districts of Sirnak near the Turkish border with Iraq. Five Turkish soldiers were injured in the fighting, according to a General Staff statement.

Turkish troops have been carrying out operations inside Turkey following the end of "Operation Gunes" on February 29. The manoeuvre saw up to 10,000 soldiers sent across the border into Iraq to seek out Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) rebels and their camps.

According to the Turkish military, 240 PKK fighters, 24 Turkish soldiers and three state-employed village guards were killed in the week-long operation.

Ankara blames the separatist group for the deaths of more than 32,000 people since the early 1980s when the PKK began fighting for independence or autonomy for the mainly Kurdish-populated south-east of Turkey.

The PKK is listed by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist group.