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One soldier, nine rebels killed in Turkey clashes

TUNCELI, Turkey (Reuters) - Nine Kurdish separatist guerrillas and one soldier have been killed in clashes in Turkey’s restive southeast region, security forces said on Monday.

They were killed on Sunday in separate incidents during a military offensive involving 10,000 troops in the mainly Kurdish region against the rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The clashes, which occurred in Tunceli, Siirt and Hakkari provinces, follow similar incidents over the past couple of weeks.

Spring usually sees a pick-up in violence, as the mountain snows melt and more rebels cross into Turkish territory from hideouts in northern Iraq.

Last week, the head of Turkey’s powerful military General Staff called for an offensive against the rebels in northern Iraq, saying U.S. forces and the Baghdad government had failed to act against them despite Ankara’s repeated pleas.

More than 30,000 people have been killed since the PKK launched its armed struggle for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984. The United States and the European Union, like Ankara, classify the PKK as a terrorist organization.