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PKK steps up attacks in Turkey

HDN | 5/30/2010 12:00:00 AM | ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires

Members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, killed five members of Turkey's security forces plus a civilian on Saturday. (UPDATED)

Members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, killed five members of Turkey's security forces plus a civilian on Saturday. The clashes came as jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan reportedly decided to abandon efforts to seek dialogue with the Turkish government, AFP reported. 

Two soldiers and a village guard – one of the government-armed locals backing up the military against the PKK – died in clashes in Şırnak province, the military said in an online statement. 

Two other soldiers were wounded in fighting that erupted when security forces came upon a group of PKK members in a mountainous area close to the Iraqi border, the online statement said. 

The operation to hunt down the militants continues, army sources said. 

In a separate incident, two village guardsmen were killed when PKK militants opened fire on a military patrol in a rural area in Siirt province, Anatolia news agency reported. 

Late Saturday evening, another group of militants attacked a chrome mine in the province of Antakya. A private security guard, Mustafa Dolumay, 26, was killed and another guard, Sabri Pekmez, 28, was wounded. One of the militants was also killed in the shooting.

Meanwhile, the PKK also attacked a convoy going to the funeral ceremony of the village guardsmen killed in the Siirt attack, Doğan News Agency reported. No one was killed or wounded.

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

The Kurdish newspaper Özgür Politika quoted PKK leader Öcalan on Saturday as saying he was abandoning efforts to establish dialogue with Ankara and leaving top PKK commanders in charge of the conflict. 

"Keeping up this process is no longer meaningful or useful. I am quitting after May 31, because I could not find an interlocutor," he said in remarks to his lawyers who visited him in jail recently, according to the report. 

Öcalan said his decision did not amount to a call on the PKK to intensify its armed campaign.

"This should not be misunderstood. This is not a call for war," he said, according to Özgür Politika. Behind bars, Öcalan has retained his influence over the PKK, often issuing guidelines to the members in statements released through his lawyers.

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