November 4, 2015 / 12:10 PM / 2 years ago

Clashes with Kurdish militants kill 18 in southeast Turkey

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Eighteen people were killed in clashes in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast region on Wednesday, a day after the military launched air strikes there, and authorities announced a curfew in two provincial districts.

The violence came days after a parliamentary election won by the AK Party of President Tayyip Erdogan, who on Wednesday pledged to continue operations against the PKK until every last insurgent is “liquidated”.

The office of the governor of Diyarbakir declared a curfew in 22 villages in two provincial districts, Hani and Lice, saying there would be an operation against the PKK militants there. The curfew was due to start at 5 p.m. (1400GMT).

Two soldiers and 15 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants were killed fighting near the village of Daglica by the Iraqi border, which the military had targeted with air strikes the day before, the General Staff said on its website.

Turkish jets also pounded PKK targets in northern Iraq on Tuesday for a second day, the military also said.

The AK Party won back a parliamentary majority on Sunday in a major victory for Erdogan. Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan used his first major speech since the vote to say operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) would continue until its militants buried their arms.

A two-year ceasefire he had championed with the militants collapsed in July.

A 20-year-old man was shot dead in the town of Silvan, where authorities ordered a round-the-clock curfew in three neighborhoods for a second successive day, security officials said. Clashes between security forces and the PKK’s urban youth wing continued throughout the day in Silvan.

On Tuesday, one man was killed in Silvan and two others in Yuksekova.

The autonomy-seeking PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms in 1984. More than 40,000 people, mainly Kurdish militants, have died in the prolonged conflict.

Over the years, Erdogan has granted some political and cultural rights to Turkey’s estimated 15 million Kurds. But the government abandoned efforts for a negotiated settlement to the insurgency this year ahead of a June vote when the AKP lost its parliamentary majority.

Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Dominic Evans

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