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Page last updated at 09:46 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 10:46 UK

Turkey blast kills nine soldiers

A Turkish soldier patrols on a road near the Turkey-Iraq border
Turkish forces have been fighting Kurdish rebels in a 25-year conflict

At least nine soldiers have been killed in a landmine explosion in south-eastern Turkey, officials say.

Military sources blamed Kurdish rebels for the attack on a road linking the predominantly Kurdish cities of Diyarbakir and Bingol.

Correspondents say it is the deadliest attack on security forces for months.

This month, 51 people were arrested on suspicion of belonging to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). It has been fighting for autonomy since 1984.

The soldiers had been travelling on an armoured personnel carrier accompanied by a tank when the bomb buried along the roadside was detonated.

The soldiers had been looking for possible roadside explosives before the passage of a military convoy later in the day.

"The tank passed the same spot, but the explosives went off when the armoured personnel carrier was passing," the head of Turkey's armed forces General Ilker Basbug said at a press conference in Ankara.

He did not blame the PKK by name.

Following the explosion in Diyarbakir province, Turkish forces launched ground and air operation attacks against suspected rebel bases.

Observers say the Turkish government has had some success in cracking down on Kurdish separatists recently and also improved co-operation with the local authorities in northern Iraq where PKK militants are thought to hide.

More than 40,000 people have died in the conflict over the last 25 years.



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