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Suspected PKK rebels attack Turkish base

Turkish officials say Kurdish PKK rebels have attacked a Turkish base near the border with Syria, leaving 30 people dead. Turkey blames an upsurge in rebel incursions on the power struggle raging in neighboring Syria.

The governor of the Turkish province of Sirnak, Vahdettin Ozkan, said rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) had attacked a Turkish security complex at Beytussebap, a mountain town near the border, killing nine soldiers and policemen. A tenth guard died later from wounds, officials added.

Other local sources said some 20 PKK militants were also killed. Sources said the fighting began late on Sunday and continued on Monday.

Turkish soldiers patrol in the province of Sirnak, on the Turkish-Iraqi border, southeastern Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007. Turkey's foreign minister turned down any cease-fire by Kurdish rebels Tuesday after he met with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad to press them to crack down on the rebels who ambushed and killed 12 Turkish soldiers two days before. Babacan said Turkey will pursue diplomacy before sending in its military, but the buildup of troops along its border with Iraq continued with military helicopters airlifting commando units into the area overnight. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Usta)

Turkish troops patrol a triangular border with Syria and Iraq

Syria's President Bashar Assad, who is battling an internal 17-month uprising, rejected claims by Turkey that his regime was using the PKK to undermine Ankara, during an interview with the Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet in July.

That followed a claim by the deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling AKP party, Huseyin Celik, that the "PKK works hand in hand with Syria's intelligence organization Al-Mukhabarat." Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also warned of military intervention if the Kurdish rebels set up bases in Syria.

But last Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu played down those assertions, saying Turkey's strife with the PKK had "lasted for 30 years" and it was "not possible to explain terror with one factor."

Last month, Turkish officials blamed a car bombing in the city of Gaziantep, also near Turkey's border with Syria, on the PKK, which had fought the Turkish state for decades.

Kurdish minorities

Turkey and Syria both have Kurdish minorities which have complained of repression by authorities in the respective countries.

The PKK is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Other Kurdish parties operate in the complex and mountainous border region, which also spans Iraq. They include the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, which controls the northern Syrian town of Afrin.

ipj/tj (AFP, Reuters)

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