Kurds kill three Turkish officials, Turkish air force’s airstrikes kill over dozen Kurdish fighters

Turkish soldiers set up a checkpoint at the entrance to Lice district in Diyarbakir, Turkey, June 26, 2016. (AFP)

Kurdish militants shot and killed two officials from the ruling AK Party in southeast Turkey over the weekend, while the Turkish military killed more than a dozen militants in air strikes, state authorities said on Sunday, Reuters reported.

Orhan Mercan, the AKP’s deputy head in the Lice district of Diyarbakir province, was shot in front of his home on Friday night and died of his wounds in hospital, the provincial governor’s office said, Reuters added.

Militants killed Aydin Ahi, deputy head of the AKP in the Ozalp district of Van province on Saturday night, the governor’s office said. Security sources said the gunmen seized Ahi from his home at gunpoint and killed him nearby. Energy Minister Berat Albayrak wrote on Twitter that Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants had killed both men. There was no immediate comment on the attacks from the PKK, but the group has targeted officials from the party in the past, Reuters added.

The PKK launched a separatist insurgency against the state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union. A ceasefire between the Turkish state and the militants broke down in July 2015 and the southeast region of the country, where the PKK is strongest, subsequently saw some of the worst violence since the insurgency began. Violence flared across the region on Saturday, according to Reuters.

In an air strike in the southeastern province of Mardin, the Turkish military killed five PKK militants preparing an attack on an army base, a general staff statement said, explained Reuters.

In separate air strikes on Saturday, the army also killed five PKK fighters in southeast Turkey’s Bingol province and another four militants in the Metina region of northern Iraq, the army said, reported Reuters.

It said another three PKK militants were killed in clashes on Saturday in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakir, Hakkari and Sirnak, Reuters concluded.

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