Nine rebels killed in southeast Turkey

 

Turkish soldiers killed nine Kurdish rebels, two of them women, in an anti-rebel operation involving some 10,000 troops in eastern Turkey overnight, military officials said on Saturday.

"Nine terrorists were killed last night in the village of Yaylagunu ... in Tunceli province," one official told Reuters.

The troops, backed up by helicopters, have been combing a wide, mountainous region for rebels for the past five days.

Three soldiers were killed and four wounded on Friday in the nearby province of Bingol in an ambush by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas.

The operation has coincided with a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the French city of Strasbourg which said the 1999 treason trial of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was unfair.

Thursday's verdict puts pressure on Turkey to retry Ocalan, who was jailed for life for leading a separatist revolt in which more than 30,000 people were killed.

The PKK launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984. The violence dwindled after Ocalan's capture but the number of clashes has increased since the group called off a unilateral ceasefire last June.

Local officials in Tunceli told Reuters troops had captured a large cache of rebel weapons and explosive materials during their latest operation.

"Many PKK members have been preparing for various actions in the area and the operations are continuing against them," one official said.