Turkey to unveil security, economy plans for Kurdish southeast

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Ankara (AFP)

Turkey will unveil a new economic and security plan for the Kurdish-dominated southeast, the prime minister said Tuesday, unveiling a bid to revitalise a region battered by renewed fighting between rebels and government forces.

The authorities have in recent weeks enforced curfews in three locations in the southeast to back up military operations against members of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Six months of fighting with the PKK since a two-and-a-half year truce collapsed last summer have severely affected the economy in the region.

"I am going to announce a plan of action to solve the political and economic problems... we are going to heal the wounds, these difficulties are temporary," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said as he met Kurdish civil society representatives in Ankara.

Davutoglu is to reveal the details of the measures during a visit to the southeastern city of Mardin -- a rare trip for him to the region since the conflict restarted.

Turkish media said the plan will also include a major security element, with a reinforcement of police and army presence in towns deemed to be "sensitive".

In December, the army and police began a major offensive in several towns and districts in the southeast, enforcing curfews to retake control from young PKK fighters who had erected barricades and declared "autonomy".

"We are going to clear the barricades, ditches and arms dumps from our towns," Davutoglu said Tuesday.

The Turkish army says it has killed nearly 600 militants since the "anti-terror" operation started in December, though the toll cannot be confirmed independently.

The clashes have also killed dozens of civilians and security personnel and forced tens of thousands of people to flee, according to rights groups.

The resumption of clashes erased the progress made in peace talks between the Turkish government and the PKK since late 2012. The conflict has claimed more than 40,000 lives since 1984.