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 12 killed in a massive operation on Kurdish PKK rebels in Turkey

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12 killed in a massive operation on Kurdish PKK rebels in Turkey  22.3.2012  

Turkish soldiers patrol on a road in the Turkey's Kurdish region in southeastern province of Sirnak. The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.
March 22, 2012

DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey, — Six Kurdish rebels and six Turkish policemen have been killed during a massive operation targeting PKK militants in the Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey, security sources told AFP on Thursday.

Backed by helicopters and fighter jets, thousands of security forces, including police and the army, were participating in the largest anti-rebel operation so far this year which began on Tuesday, they said.

The clashes were still continuing Thursday on the outskirts of Mount Cudi in Sirnak province, near the Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan border.

Special Turkish police forces have lately played a much bigger role in the fight against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a task mostly handled by soldiers in the past.

The operation is the biggest since Turkish air strikes killed 34 Kurdish smugglers near the Iraqi Kurdistan region border in December when commanders mistook them for PKK fighters.

Most of the victims were less than 20 years old.

Turkey in October launched a major air and land offensive against the rebels in the southeast of the country and in northern Iraq after 24 of its troops were killed in a night-time ambush by rebels.

In recent months, the government has also intensified pressure on alleged sympathisers of Kurdish separatist rebels.

The drive is part of a crackdown on the banned Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), suspected to be the political wing of the PKK.

Turkish authorities accuse the group of trying to topple state institutions in the south and southeast and trying to foment a rebellion.

Since 2009, about 700 people -- including lawmakers, intellectuals and mayors -- have been arrested for alleged links to the KCK, according to the government. Kurdish sources however put the number at around 3,500.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, AFP | | Agencies 


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