Turkish soldiers, Kurdish militants killed in violence in Turkey's southeast

September 17, 2016 6:57 AM EDT

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Three Turkish soldiers and four Kurdish militants were killed on Saturday in clashes in the southeastern Hakkari province while Turkish gendarmerie launched helicopter-backed security operations elsewhere in the region, security sources said.

Three Turkish soldiers were also wounded in the clashes in village of Agacdibi, around 20 kilometers south of Hakkari province bordering Iraq and Iran. An operation to capture the militants is underway, sources said.

In Sirnak province bordering Iraq, several Turkish attack helicopters bombed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets near Cudi and Gabar mountains in support of land troops carrying out operations in the area.

Southeastern Turkey has seen a surge in violence since the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy in the region, abandoned a ceasefire in 2015. Thousands of militants, security force members and civilians have been killed in fighting across the region.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States, began its insurgency in 1984.

(Writing by Humeyra Pamuk Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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