Three Turkish police officers were killed Tuesday in a roadside bomb attack on their vehicle blamed on Kurdish rebels, security sources said.
The three were killed in the Silvan district of the mainly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir as their armoured vehicle travelled on a main road, the security sources told AFP. Three other policemen were wounded.
The Turkish government has been waging a relentless offensive aimed at crippling the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has staged a string of attacks against security forces in Turkey since a two-year-old ceasefire fell apart in late July.
The violence has destroyed hopes of fresh talks to end a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.
The latest attack comes after two protesters were killed in clashes with police in Diyarbakir city on Monday, amid growing anger over the imposition of curfews to back up anti-PKK operations.
Thousands of mourners turned out on Tuesday for the funeral of the two demonstrators, aged 21 and 25, their coffins were draped in the yellow, red and green Kurdish colours, an AFP photographer reported.
They had been protesting over a curfew that has been in place in the city’s central Sur district almost uninterrupted since December 2, the latest in a succession of measures across the southeast.
In Cizre and Silopi districts in southeastern Sirnak province, which were placed under a military lockdown on Monday, hundreds of members of the security forces backed by armoured vehicles were patrolling deserted streets, the news agency Dogan said.
‘Ring of fire’
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the security operations against the PKK militants would continue to prevent them from “spreading the fire” from neighbouring Syria and Iraq into Turkey.
“In this ring of fire, we will turn both Cizre and Silopi and all our districts, and every piece of our homeland into an area of peace, stability and freedom,” he said.
“The terrorists will be wiped out from these disctricts. Neighbourhood by neighbourhood, house by house, street by street,” he said.
Figen Yuksekdag, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), accused Davutoglu and his government of “ordering a massacre” in Cizre and Silopi.
“Who are these operations against, Mr Prime Minister?” asked Yuksekdag at press conference in Diyarbakir. “There are people living in these houses, Davutoglu,” she said.
According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, a total of 52 curfews have been imposed since mid-August in 17 districts in southeastern and eastern Turkey, affecting some 13 million people.
Davutoglu said the curfews were necessary to prevent the Kurdish militants from “massacring the civilians.”
“We will never make concessions to terror and will never tolerate these structures who want to drag Turkey into a dark future,” he said.
Hundreds of teachers fled Cizre and Sirnak on Monday on the orders of the education authorities, prompting fears a major military crackdown was looming.