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Kurdish militants could halt Turkey hostilities in February

29 January 2013

Kurdish militants will announce a halt to hostilities with the Turkish state in February according to the timetable of a fledgling peace process aimed at ending a 28-year-old insurgency, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on January 29.

As an initial confidence-building step, around 100 fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group will disarm and withdraw from Turkish soil, the newspaper was reported as saying by the Reuters news agency.

Turkish intelligence officials began talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in late 2012 and Hurriyet said talks had also been held with the PKK in northern Iraq, where most of the group's militants are based.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in fighting since the rebels took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out a Kurdish state in south-eastern Turkey. The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

The conflict is the chief domestic problem facing Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan after 10 years in power.

"According to the timetable on the table, the PKK will announce its decision to halt hostilities in February right after an official call by Abdullah Ocalan," the paper said.

Under a framework for peace discussed with Ocalan, the PKK fighters will ultimately disarm after withdrawing from Turkey and the government will in return boost Kurdish minority rights.

The PKK’s campaign has involved regular attacks on hydrocarbon installations and pipelines in Eastern Turkey, with the most recent affecting the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline on January 21.

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