Turkish police officer killed during operations against Kurdish rebels

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2016 6:12 AM

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - A Turkish police officer wounded by sniper fire during operations in the mainly Kurdish southeast has died of his wounds, security sources said on Sunday.

He was hit in the district of Sur in Diyarbakir, the region's biggest city, on Saturday, they said. Sur has been under a round-the-clock curfew since the beginning of December as security forces try to eject militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from urban centers.

The cities of Silopi and Cizre, further east near the Syrian and Iraqi borders, have also been under curfew since mid-December. The military General Staff said 135 PKK militants in Silopi, 308 in Cizre and 101 in Sur have been killed since Dec. 15. according to media reports.

Turkey resumed strikes on the autonomy-seeking PKK after a 2-1/2 year ceasefire collapsed in July, and the southeast is seeing the worst violence in two decades. The PKK took up arms against the state in 1984, and more than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died.

President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to continue operations until the PKK threat is eradicated.

Operations in Cizre continued on Sunday, and the sounds of gunfire and explosions could be heard, witnesses said.

Residents tied white rags to sticks in order to evacuate their houses as armored vehicles entered their neighborhoods to remove barricades erected by the PKK, the witnesses said.

Lines formed outside of a bakery where up to 1,500 people receive daily handouts of bread, they said. Water and electricity have been cut across much of Cizre.

(Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Stephen Powell)