ANKARA, August 2 – Five pro-government Kurdish militiamen were shot dead overnight in fighting with separatist Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported.,
The clashes occurred in the mountainous Bestler area in the province of Sirnak, near the border with Iraq, during a military operation against the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the agency said.
The five men were members of the so-called "village guard" — local Kurdish units armed by the government which support the army against the rebels.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
The Turkish army has stepped up it crackdown against the group since December, intensifying operations in the southeast while also conducting a series of air raids on PKK camps in neighbouring northern Iraq, where the rebels take refuge.