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5 dead in southeast Turkey after Kurdish attacks

Kurdish rebels attacked a police station and a paramilitary police headquarters near Turkey's border with Iraq, killing five people, including three civilians, the region's governor said on Monday.

world Updated: Sep 14, 2011 08:34 IST

Kurdish rebels attacked a police station and a paramilitary police headquarters near Turkey's border with Iraq, killing five people, including three civilians, the region's governor said on Monday.

The Kurdish rebels, who are fighting for autonomy from Turkey, have stepped up attacks on Turkey's military and police, killing dozens of security forces since July, but this was the first civilians deaths in the conflict in recent months.

Turkey responded to the escalated attacks with air raids on suspected rebel positions in northern Iraq last month.

Gov Muammer Turker said three civilians, a police officer and a soldier died late on Sunday after the guerrillas opened fire on the two buildings in the town of Semdinli. The town is located in the mainly Kurdish province of Hakkari, which borders Iraq.

Ten other people, most of them soldiers, were injured in the raids by members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, he said.

The pro-Kurdish Firat news agency, however, said the civilians were killed by shots fired by the police and said the dead included a 14-year-old. The agency, which is close to the rebels, did not cite a source.

Turker said the military immediately launched an operation to catch the rebels, which the private Dogan news agency said was being backed with attack helicopters.

Dogan said the attack touched off a two-hour-long clash with the security forces and that the civilians died in the crossfire.

Video footage from Dogan showed people at an open-air wedding near one of the buildings that came under attack running and huddling for safety amid gunshots. None of the wedding guests appeared hurt.

The PKK, which has been designated as a terror organization by the United States and the European Union, is fighting for autonomy in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast region, often using bases in northern Iraq for attacks in Turkey. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict since 1984.

Meanwhile, a US official said on Sunday that Turkey and the United States were discussing how to keep cooperating against terrorist targets in northern Iraq after U.S. forces leave Iraq in December, including the possibility of basing U.S. Predator drones in Turkey.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The US currently is sharing Predator surveillance data with Turkey as part of a joint effort to combat the PKK. The Predators, capable of transmitting video, are flow from bases in Iraq.