July 20, 2010 / 7:18 AM / 9 years ago

Kurdish rebels kill six Turkish soldiers in clash

Turkish troops patrol in Hakkari province, southeastern Turkey, June 19, 2010. REUTERS/Yilmaz Kazandioglu/Anatolian

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Kurdish rebels killed six Turkish soldiers in a nighttime attack in a southeast province bordering Iraq, military officials said Tuesday.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants opened fire on an army unit, triggering a firefight which lasted until morning in the Cukurca area of Hakkari province.

Helicopters flew in reinforcements from a commando barracks in Hakkari.

A day earlier, in the same area, 11 soldiers were wounded when their minibus struck a roadside bomb.

Fighting has intensified since the PKK ended a 14-month cease-fire at the start of June, accusing the government of not being serious in its bid to boost Kurdish minority rights and bring to an end an insurgency that began in 1984.

More than 40,000 people have died in the 26-year conflict. Around 100 military personnel have been killed so far this year, already exceeding last year’s death toll.

Most of the PKK’s estimated 4,000 fighters are based in the mountains of neighbouring northern Iraq, from where they launch attacks on military targets in southeast Turkey.

The government is under pressure to clamp down on the violence as it prepares for parliamentary elections scheduled for July 2011.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced last week plans to create special units to combat the guerrillas along the border with Iraq. The plans envisage building 150 new military outposts along the frontier.

Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan and Pinar Aydinli, writing by Daren Butler

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