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Erdogan says PKK fighters still in Turkey


Turkey's prime minister has accused the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) of failing to withdraw its fighters from Turkey as agreed under a peace process, press reports said Saturday.

The PKK agreed this year to withdraw its estimated 2,000 fighters to their bases in northern Iraq. In return, it is demanding wider constitutional rights for Turkey's 15 million Kurds.

No deadline was set for the withdrawal, but a ceasefire agreement reached in March states that the peace process cannot proceed further until it is completed.

"The promises made (by the PKK) to withdraw from Turkish soil have not been fulfilled. Only 20 percent have left Turkey, and they are mostly women and children," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying Friday.

Some 45,000 people have died in the Kurdish conflict since 1984.

Under a roadmap to end the insurgency, in May the PKK began withdrawing its fighters in Turkey to safe havens in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, where they are joining thousands of fighters already present.