82 die in Turkey clash

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The Independent Online
ISTANBUL - The upsurge of fighting between troops and Kurdish rebels in south-eastern Turkey hit a new peak yesterday when 82 combatants were killed in the worst single engagement of the eight-year insurgency, writes Hugh Pope.

Guerrillas attacked a Turkish border post in Hakkari province and Turkish soldiers and helicopter gunships pursued them back into northern Iraq. Fifty-four Kurdish rebels were 'captured dead', in official parlance. Twenty-three soldiers and five government-armed Kurdish militiamen also died. 'Our Mehmets were heroes,' said Unal Erkan, governor of the Kurdish provinces, echoing the tone being adopted as the military mounts a determined push against the rebels. 'This is an all-out struggle. Everyone will be involved,' General Dogan Gures, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, told the Milliyet newspaper.

In Istanbul, an apparently successful operation was mounted against the Dev-Sol (Revolutionary Left) group. Turkish television said security forces raided 'safe' houses, killing three people and capturing 11. The television said that in the past two years the suspects had killed several Turkish officials and an American.

Dev-Sol commands little of the support left-wingers had during the last round of urban violence, in the 1970s. Crowds urged on the police teams, clapped and lauded them with cries of 'hero-police'.