ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkish troops fought with Kurdish rebels Tuesday in clashes in the country’s southeast that killed two guerillas and one soldier, a local official said.
A newspaper, meanwhile, reported that Turkish intelligence officers snatched three Kurdish rebel leaders from a camp about 20 kilometers (12 miles) inside Iraq and transported them to Turkey.
Vatan newspaper did not name the three leaders but said they were captured by intelligence officers who flew in helicopters and raided their meeting in northern Iraq’s Seladze region.
One of the three leaders was wounded in a clash that followed the raid, the paper said. There was no immediate confirmation of the report, and Turkey’s military chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, refused to
Tuesday’s fighting near the town of Genc, in Bingol province, also left two soldiers and three government-paid village guards wounded, said the province’s governor, Irfan Balkanlioglu. He said the clash broke out when the rebels ignored the troops’ call for their surrender.
There has been an upsurge in fighting between troops and the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is battling for self-rule in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish-populated southeast.
The group maintains bases in northern Iraq and traditionally increases attacks in the spring, when the snow melts and mountain passes on the border are more accessible.
Turkey has been conducting aerial attacks and artillery strikes on suspected rebel positions in northern Iraq with the help of U.S. intelligence.
In February, it sent troops across the border to chase the rebels in an incursion that lasted eight days. The violence, however, suggests the offensives may have had limited effect.
Tuesday’s deaths have raised to 11 the number of soldiers who have died in clashes or land mine explosions since April 20.
Also Tuesday, the leader of a pro-Kurdish party was drafted into the army a day after he was released from jail.
Nurettin Demirtas, 35, was released Monday pending the outcome of his trial for allegedly using fake documents to try to avoid military service.
Authorities on Tuesday took him to barracks in a town some 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Ankara to begin his military training, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
Demirtas spent 12 years in prison between 1993 and 2005 for membership in the PKK. He is accused of using forged health documents in an attempt to avoid conscription after his release from prison. Turkish men must serve in the army for up to 15 months.
If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to five years in prison. Demirtas, who is chairman of the Democratic Society party but is not a legislator, has denied wrongdoing. His party is fighting accusations of links to the PKK in a legal battle at Turkey’s highest court. Prosecutors have demanded that the party be disbanded.