Two Turkish soldiers shot dead in Kurdish town

Filed on July 5, 2011

DIYARBAKIR — Two soldiers were shot dead Tuesday in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast in an attack believed to be the work of Kurdish rebels, security sources said.

The soldiers, wearing civilian clothes, came under fire while walking on the main street of Yuksekova town, a hotbed of Kurdish militancy in the province of Hakkari, which borders Iran and Iraq, the sources said.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), fighting for Kurdish self-rule in the southeast, was believed to be behind the attack.

Two off-duty sergeants were shot dead in a similar fashion in Yuksekova in April.

In a separate development Tuesday, an explosion hit a military vehicle on a road in the outskirts of the capital Ankara, but there were no casualties, Anatolia news agency reported.

A small bomb designed to make loud noise rather than kill was likely to have caused the blast, Ankara police chief Zeki Catalkaya said, according to Anatolia.

There was no immediate word about the perpetrators.

The PKK has targeted military vehicles in the past.

Tensions between Ankara and the restive Kurdish community have mounted in the wake of the June 12 elections after the authorities refused to release six Kurdish activists elected to parliament while awaiting trial in prison and stripped one of them of his seat.

Later that month, the PKK set tough conditions for Ankara for the extension of a unilateral truce it had declared in August last year.

The group demanded that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly announce an end to military operations against its militants, and that parliament officially invite jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to negotiations to resolve the Kurdish conflict.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

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