Erdogan: 5,359 Kurdish militants killed since July

Turkish security forces have killed 5,359 Kurdish militants since the PKK abandoned a two-year ceasefire in July

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Turkish security forces have killed 5,359 Kurdish militants since the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) abandoned a two-year ceasefire in July, the state-run Anadolu news agency cited President Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Monday.

Erdogan said 355 soldiers, police officers and village guards have been killed in the violence, most of it in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast. Anadolu cited the text of a speech by Erdogan to the Turkish War Academy.

Erdogan’s spokesman also said on Monday that Turkey has prevented potential attacks in recent weeks including planned suicide bombings following a spate of attacks blamed on ISIS and Kurdish militants.

Ibrahim Kalin made the comment at a news conference in Ankara. Turkey has been hit by four bombings this year that have killed more than 80 people.

The most recent on March 19 in Istanbul, killed three Israeli tourists and an Iranian.

Israel has urged its citizens in Turkey to leave “as soon as possible” in an upgraded travel advisory predicting possible follow-up attacks.


Dozens killed in southeast Turkey

In a related story, a local elected official was killed in Turkey’s strife-hit southeast on Monday after a weekend of violence that also claimed the lives of almost 30 militants and soldiers, according to security sources.

Ibrahim Inco, the village leader in Sarioren in Sanliurfa province, was shot after suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants hijacked his car, the sources said.

They were fleeing after detonating an explosive targeting a military vehicle. Three soldiers were hurt in the explosion, the sources said.

It was the latest violence in southeastern Turkey after the PKK abandoned its two-year ceasefire in July. Months of clashes have ensued, making it one of the deadliest periods in the insurgency’s 31 years.

The military said 25 PKK militants were killed in the towns of Nusaybin, Sirnak and Yuksekova in clashes at the weekend.

On Sunday, two soldiers were killed and seven wounded in Nusaybin, a city on the Syrian border, when militants detonated explosives in a building security forces were searching, security sources said. Five soldiers were wounded.

In a separate incident in Nusaybin, which has been under a round-the-clock curfew since March 14, a soldier was killed by sniper fire, and a police officer was killed in a bomb attack.

Nusaybin is the latest city to see security operations as the military tries to root out PKK militants from urban centres where they have erected barricades and dug trenches. The military has also launched dozens of air strikes against PKK bases in northern Iraq.

(With AFP, Reuters)

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