November 5, 2015 / 10:04 AM / in 2 years

Turkish army kills 16 Kurdish rebels in latest clash near Iraq border

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Eighteen people were killed in clashes with the military in southeastern Turkey on Thursday, lifting this week’s death toll to almost 40 in the mainly Kurdish area and dampening prospects for a ceasefire.

The military killed 16 PKK rebels in a rural area near the town of Yuksekova near the Iraqi border, the General Staff said in a statement on its website. The army killed 15 PKK fighters and lost two soldiers there on Wednesday.

In the town of Silvan, where authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew on three districts this week, two men were shot to death in street clashes, security sources said. Two others were killed earlier this week.

The ruling AK Party regained its parliamentary majority in an election last Sunday, five months after it was deprived of single-party rule. In July, the long-running conflict against the autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) reignited.

President Tayyip Erdogan, who had overseen a historic peace process that collapsed in July, vowed on Wednesday to continue battling the PKK until every last fighter was “liquidated.”

An opinion poll by Ipsos released Wednesday said 13 percent of the electorate switched their votes ahead of the snap election due to fears of mounting PKK violence.

The PKK, based mainly in northern Iraq, took up arms in 1984 and has scaled back its demands in recent years to greater political and cultural rights. It also has deployed some 1,400 militants to fight against Islamic State alongside U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds, Erdogan has said.

Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley

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