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Sunday, July 17, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Long-simmering tension between Turkish Army and Kurdish insurgents turns bloody

ANKARA — The Kurdish insurgency has escalated in Turkey.


At least 20 people were killed in a battle between the Turkish Army and the Kurdish Workers Party. The July 14 clash was regarded as the bloodiest between Kurdish insurgents and the Army since the PKK ended its ceasefire in February.

"Everyone should determine their stand," parliamentary speaker Cemil Cicek said. "Either we choose democracy or those who spit blood."

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At least 13 Turkish soldiers were killed and six others were injured in the battle in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, Middle East Newsline reported. The Turkish Air Force responded with air strikes in the forests near the Iraqi border, and the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency said several additional soldiers were killed as well.

Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has been meeting intelligence chiefs and Army commanders to discuss a sustained response to the PKK assault. Officials said the prime minister was also being briefed by the interior minister and security chiefs.

"Turkey will succeed in overcoming the terror and the powers behind it without compromising democracy, justice and brotherhood," Erdogan said.

Officials said the PKK has launched an offensive in eastern and southern Turkey. They cited increased incidents of ambushes and abductions, mainly in the provinces of Diyarbakir and Tunceli.

The Kurdish minority has been angered by court decisions that prevented inmates elected to parliament in June from being released from prison. The Kurdish-aligned Peace and Democracy Party and other parties have boycotted the new parliament and threatened to break from Ankara.

"The Turkish parliament should take the initiative to bring peace," Peace and Democratch chairman Selahattin Demirtas said.

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