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PKK attack kills five Turkish police: sources

Sep 24, 2011, 12:28 p.m.

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Kurdish guerrillas armed with rocket launchers attacked a police station in southeastern Turkey on Saturday, killing five police officers and wounding nine in a clash in which three rebels were also killed, security sources said.

They said the attack took place in the town of Pervari in the southeastern province of Siirt and fighting was still under way.

It was staged at a time of heightened tension between Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels and the Turkish military, which has launched air strikes and artillery raids against suspected PKK bases in northern Iraq in retaliation for a recent spate of militant attacks inside Turkey.

Turkey has threatened to carry out an incursion into northern Iraq to attack PKK bases there, despite opposition from Iraq's regional Kurdish government.

Earlier this month, Turkish Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said Turkey was preparing a possible ground operation in northern Iraq, depending on the result of talks with Iraq.

After a clear victory in a June election, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan vowed to press ahead with legal reforms addressing the 12-million-strong Kurdish minority's grievances.

But a wave of PKK attacks have raised the possibility of a return to a hardline government stance in the 27-year-old fight against the rebels, with Erdogan recently warning he had lost patience with the PKK.

The PKK, branded a terrorist group by Ankara, Washington and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 to fight for Kurdish autonomy. More than 40,000 people have died in the separatist insurgency.

(Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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