Some 500 Kurdish rebels killed in one month: Turkish PM

AFP , Monday 17 Sep 2012

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says almost 500 Kurdish rebels have been killed in August by security troops, including 123 in the last 10 days

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo: Reuters)

Some 500 Kurdish rebels have been killed over the past month by Turkish security forces, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.

Erdogan said 123 of the rebels were killed over the past 10 days in an ongoing military operation in the southeastern city of Hakkari, near the border with Iraq and the site of frequent clashes between the separatists and government forces.

In all, about 500 "terrorists" had been "rendered ineffective", the prime minister said in televised remarks.

The recent toll comes after an army announcement earlier this month, which said that close to 500 people, mostly Kurdish, had been killed in operations over six months between February and August.

The army statement had noted that the Turkish military staged close to 1,000 operations over the last six months to drive out the rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkish military efforts mainly focused on the Semdinli district of Hakkari city, which this summer saw a major showdown between Turkish forces and the PKK.

The army's last operation in Semdinli, launched September 8, includes nearly 5,000 ground troops backed by air power to fend off the Kurdish rebels who try to block roads to establish safe zones inside Turkish territory.

Turkish fighter jets also occasionally violate Iraqi airspace to strike PKK hideouts in the north of Iraq, from where rebels are believed to cross into Turkey for hit-and-run attacks against Turkish forces.

The army announced earlier that an airstrike inside northern Iraq in early September killed 25 rebels.

The PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in the southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

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