Two civilians, soldier killed in Turkish army operations against Kurd rebels

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 04, 2016 4:38 AM

By Seyhmus Cakan

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Two civilians and a soldier have been killed in southeastern Turkey as military operations to root out armed fighters focused on urban centers across the mainly Kurdish region, security sources said.

A 35-year-old mother of three children was killed and another person was wounded on Sunday after a mortar hit their house in the district of Sur in the region's largest city of Diyarbakir, the sources said late on Sunday.

In the town of Silopi, east of Diyarbakir near the Syrian and Iraqi borders, a man was killed by gunfire and his wife and another relative were wounded after they attempted to venture out of their home, the sources added.

A soldier was killed in a bomb attack by members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Sur late on Sunday, the Chief of the General Staff said in a statement on Monday.

Historic Sur district, which boasts UNESCO World Heritage sites, has been under a round-the-clock curfew since Dec. 2 as the army tries to push out PKK fighters who have dug trenches and built barricades there and other residential areas in the region.

Violence in the three-decade war with the PKK flared in July after the collapse of peace talks. President Tayyip Erdogan said last week there would be no let-up in a military campaign that he said had killed more than 3,000 militants in 2015.

Hundreds of soldiers and civilians have also died in towns and cities across the region in the operations.

Erdogan said at the weekend he backs a criminal probe of the leaders of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a parliamentary group with Kurdish origins, over comments about self-rule.

Figen Yuksekdag, one of two HDP co-chairs who is facing possible prosecution, said a lack of international outcry over the violence is helping to prolong it.

"The silence of international powers (amounts to) approval, and this is causing the war to continue," she said outside the town of Silopi in comments broadcast by Med Nuce television.

Nearby in the town of Cizre, army tanks could be seen pounding buildings believed to contain PKK members on Sunday, Reuters TV footage showed.

Local residents, carrying homemade white flags on sticks, fled their houses, carrying their children and carting belongings in a wheelbarrow or suitcases.

One man told Reuters TV that he and family members were leaving, because they are unable to find medicine to prevent his disabled daughter's seizures.

"Every day they fire artillery and mortars," he said, without giving his name. "We must leave, but we don't know where we can go, how to leave."

The autonomy-seeking PKK took up arms in 1984, and more than 40,000 people - mainly Kurds - have been killed in the violence. The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

(Additional reporting by Melih Aslan; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Ece Toksabay and Tom Heneghan)