Turkey continues attack on Iraqi Kurds

Turkish helicopters attacked Kurdish rebel positions in mountains near the Iraq border today as troops kept up pressure on the guerrillas.

Turkish helicopters attacked Kurdish rebel positions in mountains near the Iraq border today as troops kept up pressure on the guerrillas.

Two Turkish soldiers were killed in the fighting which came as Turkey celebrated its 84th anniversary as a republic, with massive parades of tanks and other military machinery through the day and torchlight marches into the night.

In an address to the nation President Abdullah Gul the fight would go on against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, rebels, a fight that has been going on since 1984 and has seen nearly 40,000 people killed.

"The struggle that we have been leading for a long time, as a nation, against this terrorism curse is now being led with more determination," Mr Gul said.

He joined the head of the military general Yasar Buyukanit in an open-topped car for the main parade in Ankara, following a ceremonial cavalry troop as fighter jets flew in formation overhead. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other high-level officials watched from the stands.

In Istanbul, scores of tanks, howitzers and other armoured vehicles were paraded past saluting commanders as crowds of people waved flags and clapped.

Crowds in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the predominantly Kurdish south-east, chanted "martyrs don't die, the country cannot be divided" in support of the government.

Meanwhile in the fighting government troops trapped about 100 Kurdish rebels after blocking all escape routes across the frontier.

The troops, who have been shelling mountain passages used by the rebels to escape to bases in Iraq forced them to hide in caves.

Another clash erupted between PKK rebels and Turkish troops near the town of Genc in the neighbouring Bingol province but no casualties were reported.

The PKK fighters have at least 44 people in the past month including about 30 Turkish soldiers in two ambushes that were the boldest attacks in years - increasing domestic pressure on Turkey's prime minister to act.

Turkey has demanded the extradition of PKK leaders, under threat of staging a cross-border offensive in Iraq to hunt down them itself.

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