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PKK attacks kill three Turkish police

September 13, 2015

At least three police officers have been killed in attacks by Kurdish militants in southeastern Turkey. Amid the recent escalation of violence in the region, Germany's foreign minister has urged Turkey not to overreact.

Türkei Cizre Ausgangssperre aufgehoben
Residents in the Turkish town of Cizre inspect the damage after intense clashes between Turkish forces and PKK militantsImage: Reuters/S. Kayar

Security sources said militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) detonated a car bomb at a police checkpoint outside the town of Sirnak early on Sunday, killing two officers and wounding five others. Following the blast, Turkish troops stationed at a nearby base pursued the fleeing fighters with helicopters. At least five militants were killed in the operation.

Also on Sunday, a police officer was killed in a PKK grenade attack in the Silvan district of Diyarbakir province.

The deaths are the latest in a recent uptick in the conflict between the Turkish government and the militant PKK. Since the collapse of a ceasefire in July, dozens of security forces and militants have been killed in almost daily attacks and skirmishes, mainly in Turkey's southeast.

Curfews called

Turkish media reported that authorities had imposed a curfew in parts of Silvan in response to Sunday's attack. The provincial governor of Diyarbakir also declared a curfew in the historic Sur district of Diyarbakir city after reports of gunfire there. It was not clear how long the measures will remain in place.

Meanwhile, authorities on Saturday lifted a week-long curfew in the southeastern town of Cizre, near the borders with Iraq and Syria. The curfew had been in place to allow security forces to carry out a massive military operation against suspected PKK militants in the city. A pro-Kurdish party reported that 21 civilians were killed during clashes in the town. The government, however, said one civilian and 32 militants had died.

Plea for calm

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK began its separatist insurgency in 1984. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently pledged to continue the fight "until not one terrorist is left within our country."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday said he was alarmed by the escalation in the Kurdish conflict and urged the Turkish government to exercise restraint.

"While I understand the need for an appropriate response to terrorist attacks, I hope the government in Ankara is striving to calm the situation and avoid overreactions," Steinmeier told Germany's Funke newspaper group.

nm/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, epd)