Turkey buries more soldiers as violence flares in southeast

Friday 14/08/2015
New cycle in decades-old conflict

ISTANBUL - Turkey on Wednesday held funeral ceremonies for three more soldiers killed in clashes with Kurdish militants, as the authorities stepped up security and military operations in the restive southeast.

Around 100-150 civilians had formed a human shield late Tuesday against an army operation launched after Kurdish militants set up roadblocks on the highway between the Lice district of Diyarbakir and Bingol province in southeast Turkey, the army said.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants disguised themselves as villagers and clashes broke out that left two soldiers dead and another one wounded, the army added.

The deaths raised the two-day death toll in ongoing clashes in the area to three after another soldier succumbed to his injuries.

Funeral ceremonies were held on Wednesday in Diyarbakir city for the three slain soldiers who were later flown to their home regions for burial.

Meanwhile Turkish police detained the co-mayors of Sur and Silvan districts of Diyarbakir in morning raids after they had declared so-called "self-governance" in the area.

The authorities had earlier declared a curfew in Silvan following heavy clashes between the PKK militants and the security forces.

After a series of attacks in Turkey, Ankara has launched a two-pronged offensive to bomb Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and PKK rebels in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey.

So far, the operation has focused largely on the Kurdish rebels, who have responded by tearing up a 2013 ceasefire and waging a bloody campaign against the security forces.

More than 40 members of the Turkish security forces have been killed in violence linked to the PKK since the crisis began on July 20 when a suicide bombing blamed on IS left scores of pro-Kurdish activists dead in the town of Suruc.