August 27, 2015 / 4:24 PM / 4 years ago

Seven killed in Turkey in clashes with militants

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Seven people, including at least four civilians, were killed on Thursday in clashes between Turkey’s armed forces and militants in the mainly Kurdish southeast, security sources and the army said.

Smoke rose above the town of Cizre near the Syrian border after Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels armed with rocket launchers attacked a military base in the afternoon, witnesses and security sources said.

One soldier was killed and four were wounded in a clash with PKK militants in Diyarbakir province, the Turkish military said in a statement.

Street fighting that has raged for days between soldiers and militia fighters continued overnight in the town of Yuksekova, about 300 km (190 miles) further east, near Turkey’s border with Iraq and Iran, despite a curfew there, officials added.

“There are people with critical injuries who are being treated in homes. Security forces have shelled a neighborhood, and hit residential buildings,” said Abdullah Zeydan, a lawmaker representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

A 2-1/2-year-old ceasefire between Turkey and Kurdish militants collapsed in July after a group close to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels shot dead two police officers and Turkey retaliated with strikes against the group in Iraq and Turkey.

An estimated 800 PKK fighters, more than 60 soldiers and police officers and 12 civilians have been killed, according to government sources and Turkish media.

The fighting in Cizre killed three people and wounded seven, including a seven-year-old, security sources said. Gunfire rang out for hours after the initial attack, Reuters video footage showed.

Three other people were killed in Yuksekova, a local government official said on condition of anonymity. One of them was a father-of-three aged 32, said Zeydan.

Footage from Yuksekova showed a group carrying a man in a blood-stained blanket ducking when they came under fire.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died since the rebels first took up arms in 1984 for a Kurdish homeland, a goal they later scaled down to greater political autonomy.

The latest violence erupted after a June 7 election failed to produce a single-party government, and threatens to mar a new vote scheduled for Nov. 1.

Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Andrew Roche

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