Turkey sends extra troops, aerial support to fight Kurdish militants

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2015 4:55 AM

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey sent extra troops, reconnaissance planes and helicopter into its eastern Agri province on Saturday after four soldiers were wounded in a clash with Kurdish insurgents that started during the night, the military said.

Ankara and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which wants greater Kurdish autonomy, agreed a ceasefire two years ago but the fragile peace process has faltered ahead of Turkey's parliamentary elections in June.

No one from the PKK was immediately available for comment.

The fighting was still going on in Agri's Diyadin district near the Iranian border, the military said on its website.

"Terrorists with rifles opened fire on our forces, who immediately returned fire," it said.

"We have sent reconnaissance planes, armed helicopters and additional ground troops to the region and the clash is still on-going."

Last month Turkish forces exchanged fire with Kurdish rebels in the southeast, the Turkish military said, just days after jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said the group's 30-year insurgency had become "unsustainable".

About 40,000 people have died in the insurgency.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has invested significant political capital in the Kurdish peace process that started in 2012 and his authority, to some extent, is linked to its success.

A sweeping majority in June for the AK Party he founded would allow it to change the constitution and give Erdogan the broader presidential power he seeks.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Louise Ireland)