KURDISH REBELS UP PRESSURE AHEAD OF TURKEY VOTE

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ISTANBUL: Kurdish rebels in Turkey’s southeast are ramping up attacks in a bid to pressure Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to speed up reforms ahead of presidential elections, analysts say. A recent spate of ambushes, kidnappings and roadblocks by Kurdish militants threatens to further erode the fraught relationship between Ankara and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) ahead of Turkey’s first direct presidential election in August. Erdogan is widely expected to run, but to win he needs support from the country’s Kurdish minority, who make up one fifth of the population and form a majority in the southeast. The PKK declared a ceasefire in March 2013, but peace talks stalled in September after the rebels said they were suspending their retreat from Turkish soil, accusing the government of failing to deliver on promised reforms. The banned group took up arms in 1984 with the aim of creating an independent Kurdish state, but it has since scaled back its demands to greater autonomy for Kurds.

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AFP

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