World News

Ten Kurdish militants killed as PKK ceasefire call fails to halt clashes

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish security forces killed ten Kurdish militants during ground and air operations in southeastern Turkey on Tuesday, the military said, days after the insurgents called a unilateral ceasefire.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ordered its forces on Saturday to halt all actions in Turkey, following a bomb blast that killed 97 people at a peace rally in Ankara. The government dismissed the truce declaration as a ploy ahead of November polls that will be contested by a pro-Kurdish party.

Three militants were killed in clashes during an operation by the military in Hakkari province, close to Turkey’s Iran and Iraq borders, the military said in a statement on Wednesday. Seven more were killed in subsequent air strikes.

Security sources said Turkish F-16 jets launched further air strikes against Kurdish positions.

The conflict has surged in ferocity since a two year ceasefire collapsed in July, leaving long-term peace negotiations in tatters. Turkey is due to hold elections on Nov. 1 that could further exacerbate tensions over security.

It remains unclear who carried out the Ankara bombing, at a rally attended predominantly by pro-Kurdish groups.

On Wednesday Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said both the PKK and Islamic State could have played a role in the bombing, despite the two groups being involved in fierce combat against each other in neighboring Syria.

The PKK, deemed by the United States and the EU as a terrorist organization, has been fighting an insurgency since 1984, demanding greater Turkish autonomy in the southeast of the country. Some 40,000 have been killed in fighting.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz and Ece Toksabay, writing by Jonny Hogg; editing by Ralph Boulton