Turkish Forces Kill 3 Suspected Militants

Posted June 14th, 2011 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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Turkish officials say security forces have killed three suspected militants in clashes in eastern Turkey.

The officials said the clashes occurred Tuesday in Sivas province. They did not specify any affiliation for the alleged militants; however, Kurdish rebels have an active stronghold in the country's southeast.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, has been fighting for an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey since 1984. That fighting has killed about 40,000 people.

Days earlier, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party had a strong showing in Sunday's elections.

While the election was peaceful, the Anatolia news agency said police arrested 34 people in the mainly southeastern province of Batman for allegedly trying to coerce people into supporting Kurdish nationalists running as independents.

The Kurds also had threatened to boycott the vote after Turkey's main election board announced plans to ban seven Kurdish candidates from running. That decision was later reversed.

The Kurds are expected to play an important part in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's push to amend the country's constitution, written in 1982 when Turkey was under military rule.

His backers say the amended constitution would guarantee more rights for minorities, including Kurds. Kurdish leaders say it should recognize the Kurds as a distinct element of the nation and grant them autonomy.