March 7, 2016 / 3:18 PM / 2 years ago

Clashes in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast kill 13 militants, two soldiers

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Thirteen Kurdish militants and two Turkish soldiers have been killed during two days of fighting in restive southeastern Turkey, officials said on Monday.

The militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were killed on Monday when a firefight broke out in the town of Idil, which has been under a round-the-clock curfew since Feb. 16 in an effort to root the rebels out.

The military said on Sunday a soldier had been killed in Idil. On Monday it said a soldier had been killed by a sharpshooter in Sur, a historic district in Diyarbakir, the largest city of the mainly Kurdish southeast.

Sur is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and its monuments have been badly damaged since a curfew was imposed on Dec. 2, photographs have shown.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday the lockdown in Sur would end by March 21.

Hundreds of soldiers and police officers, PKK fighters and civilians have been killed since July, when the PKK abandoned a 2-1/2 year ceasefire, igniting the worst violence in 20 years.

The autonomy-seeking PKK has waged an armed campaign against Turkey since 1984, and more than 40,000 people have died.

President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to continue the operations until the PKK gives up its weapons.

Security forces disposed of hundreds of explosives in Idil, a town of two- and three-storey homes with a population of 73,000 people situated 25 km (15 miles) north of the Syrian border, sources said. Militants had built 500 ditches and barricades in the town, they said.

Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Gareth Jones

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