Kurdish militants ended a month-old ceasefire in Turkey on Thursday, a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "liquidate" them, dashing hopes of any let-up in violence in the wake of a national election.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group said the ruling AK Party, which won back its parliamentary majority in Sunday's election, was on a war footing.
"The unilateral halt to hostilities has come to an end with the AKP's war policy and the latest attacks," it said in a statement carried by the Firat news agency, which is close to the militant group.
Erdogan, who oversaw a peace process with the PKK which collapsed in July, vowed on Wednesday to continue battling the PKK until every last fighter was "liquidated."
Eighteen people were killed in clashes with the military in the mainly Kurdish southeast on Thursday, bringing this week's death toll to almost 40. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the insurgency since it began in 1984.
The PKK — designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and European Union — declared the ceasefire on October 10 as a move to avoid any violence that might prevent a "fair and just election." The government dismissed it as an electoral tactic.
In the latest violence, the military killed 16 PKK rebels in a rural area near the town of Yuksekova, by the Iraqi border, the General Staff said on its website. The army had said it had killed 15 PKK fighters and lost two soldiers there on Wednesday.
In the town of Silvan, where authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew on three districts this week, one police officer and two men were shot dead in clashes, bringing the death toll there to five this week, security sources said.
They said one soldier had also been killed in a clash with militants on Thursday in the Diyarbakir district of Dicle, which is also partly under curfew.
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