DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish security forces backed by helicopters imposed a curfew in parts of a town in the largely Kurdish southeast on Tuesday, where three people were killed in clashes, security sources said, the first deaths since a weekend election.
The army said it launched air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant bases in northern Iraq on Monday, suggesting there will be no let-up in its fight after the vote.
The ruling AK Party won back a parliamentary majority on Sunday in a major victory for President Tayyip Erdogan, who has pledged to continue operations against the PKK after a two-year ceasefire collapsed in July.
The PKK said it expected the government to “escalate war”.
“The AKP has decided to persist with a war that will bring Turkey face-to-face with big crises at home and abroad,” it said in a statement carried by the Firat news agency, which is close to the militant group.
In the town of Silvan, militants of the PKK’s youth wing dug trenches to keep police out of some areas and a 22-year-old man was shot dead, security sources said. Police put three neighbourhoods under curfew.
Separately, two men were shot dead in clashes between police and members of the PKK youth wing, one of the group’s most radical elements, in the town of Yuksekova, near the Iranian border, the sources said.
Erdogan had been credited with negotiating a peace process with the PKK beginning in late 2012, but the slow-moving talks ground to a halt before a June election, in which his AKP lost its single-party majority for the first time since 2002.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), much of whose grassroots support is sympathetic to the PKK, has called for an end to the violence and supports a political settlement. The party entered parliament for the first time in June. A month later, the 30-year conflict with the PKK re-ignited.
Sunday’s snap election was ordered by Erdogan after the AKP failed to form a coalition. The AKP won 49 percent of the vote but the HDP lost more than a third of its seats, raising fears that a return to peace talks will be difficult.
The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984, and more than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have been killed since. It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.
“We expect the government to halt all military and police operations and show the will for the ceasefire to become mutual,” the HDP said in a statement after meeting other pro-Kurdish groups.
Additional reporting by Gulsen Solaker in Ankara; Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley and Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph Boulton