Last updated: 23 August, 2012

Clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurd rebels kill nine

Fresh violence between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels in the restive southeast left at least nine dead on Thursday, eyewitnesses told AFP.

Clashes erupted when Kurdish rebels attempted to set up ID controls in some areas of Semdinli town in the Hakkari province near the Iraqi border, prompting security forces to launch an offensive backed by helicopters, witnesses said.

Nine bodies were seen in the streets during the ongoing clashes, they added. It was not immediately clear if the bodies were of rebels or security forces.

The latest violence comes after clashes erupted Wednesday night when rebels ambushed a military convoy in Semdinli, triggering fighting that left 21 people dead, 16 of whom were Kurdish rebels.

Eyewitnesses said rebels and security forces were using heavy guns in the fighting.

Semdinli is the scene of frequent clashes between Turkish security forces and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkish officials and media tie the surge in recent attacks to the conflict raging in neighbouring Syria. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened military intervention if Kurdish rebels set up bases in the neighbouring country.

The conflict with the PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, has claimed some 45,000 lives over nearly three decades.