Four soldiers killed in Turkish city as curfew expanded

Diyarbakir (Turkey): Four Turkish soldiers were killed today in clashes with Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) militants in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, as a controversial curfew order was expanded to new areas in the Kurdish-dominated city.

Kurdish militants today attacked the security forces with rifles and rocket launchers in the central Sur district of Diyarbakir, prompting intense clashes that killed three soldiers and wounded six others, the army said in a statement.

One more soldier later died of his wounds in hospital, the Dogan news agency reported.

Vowing to flush out the PKK from Turkey’s urban centres, the authorities have in recent weeks enforced curfews in three locations in the southeast to back up military operations that activists say have killed dozens of civilians.

A curfew measure in Sur, which has been in place since December 2, has been widened to cover five more neighbourhoods and a main road today to help the security forces remove the bombs and barricades set up by the militants, local authorities said.

Clutching bags of possessions and mattresses, residents of the affected areas rapidly moved to different neighbourhoods to take shelter, an AFP photographer said.

Curfews remain in place in the town of Cizre in Sirnak province near the Iraqi border, which was imposed on December 14. A curfew in nearby Silopi was partially lifted last week.

The army also said a total of 20 Kurdish rebels were killed in Cizre and Sur yesterday, bringing the total number of militants killed in the two towns to some 600 since the “anti-terror” operation started in December.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the figures.

The operations mark a new escalation in six months of fighting with the PKK since a two-and-a-half year truce collapsed.