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Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 01:34 GMT


World: Europe

Turkey denies Kurd 'propaganda'

Last month Turkish troops crossed the border into Kurdish-held areas of northern Iraq

The Turkish authorities have dismissed reports that a military helicopter was shot down by the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK.

The Ocalan File
The PKK said at least 20 soldiers were killed in the incident, near the Iraqi border on Sunday.

But a senior Turkish official in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir said he had received no such news, and described the reports as "propaganda".


The BBC's Chris Morris in Ankara: "The PKK has vowed its military struggle will intensify"
The PKK said the helicopter was carrying troop reinforcements to a mountain in Hakkari province, where a military operation was underway.

The rebels also said they killed eight soldiers in an ambush on a military convoy in a neighbouring province.


[ image: Mr Ecevit visits the region promising investment]
Mr Ecevit visits the region promising investment
The PKK last said it had shot down a helicopter in November. The claim was confirmed by the Turkish authorities the following day.

The PKK report came as the Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, visited Diyarbakir - the first visit by a senior Turkish politician since the capture last month of the Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

About 3,000 police and soldiers were deployed in the city following a warning from Mr Ocalan's PKK movement that anyone who met the prime minister would be punished.

The region is already governed under special emergency regulations and, since the capture of Mr Ocalan, members of the foreign media have been prevented from travelling there.

PKK war vow

The PKK has vowed to intensify its war with the Turkish government following the arrest of Mr Ocalan.

The Turkish military, however, insists that incessant pressure on the PKK over the last few years has brought the rebels to the verge of defeat, while the state is also putting pressure on Kurdish political activism.

The constitutional court meets on Monday to consider a request from the country's top prosecutor, who wants to prevent the main Kurdish political party, Hadep, from playing any part in next month's local and general elections.

The prosecutor has described the party as the mouthpiece of the PKK.



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