Timeline: Kurdish militant group PKK's three-decade war with Turkey

(Reuters) - Jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan called on Thursday for his Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters to halt hostilities with Turkish armed forces, the most significant step yet in efforts to end a three-decade conflict.

Below is a list of key dates and landmark moments

1978: Abdullah Ocalan, a student at Ankara University, forms PKK as a clandestine Marxist group.

August 1984: PKK stages first attacks in southeast Turkey, killing two soldiers. Fighting escalates in the years ahead, the PKK using bases in northern Iraq as refuge.

September 1998: Ocalan flees his base in Syria after Ankara threatens Damascus with military action unless it hands him over. In the months ahead, Turkish security services track him around Europe.

February 1999: Ocalan seized by Turkish special forces on his way to Nairobi airport. He is bundled onto a plane, bound and blindfolded, and flown to Turkey.

June 1999: Ocalan is tried and sentenced to death. The sentence is reduced to life imprisonment when Turkey abolishes the death penalty in October 2002.

2002: Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party elected to government. As prime minister, Erdogan takes a more liberal course than predecessors, promoting reforms to allow more cultural and language rights to Kurds. Kurdish activists demand greater change and complain of continued repression.

2010: Secret talks in Oslo between Turkish intelligence officers and PKK representatives. Talks break down.

Summer 2012: Fighting reaches new intensity. Turkish authorities round up Kurdish activists.

October 2012: Ocalan and government representatives open talks while imprisoned Kurdish activists hold hunger strike.

November 2012: Kurdish militants end hunger strike in response to an appeal from Ocalan, opening way for talks.

2013: Talks between Ocalan and Turkish intelligence officials on his island prison in the Marmara Sea.

March 21: Ocalan announces ceasefire and orders his fighters to withdraw from Turkish soil

Writing by David Cutler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph Boulton