Turkey frees three French held over alleged PKK links: source

Updated 12 July 2018
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Turkey frees three French held over alleged PKK links: source

Diyarbakir - TUR
Diyarbakir, Turkey, 12, 2018 (AFP) -Turkish authorities on Thursday released three French nationals after they were briefly detained in the Kurdish-majority southeast over alleged ties to outlawed Kurdish militants, a judicial source told AFP.
Security forces had earlier detained 16 suspects in an operation launched in the Beytussebap district of Sirnak province bordering Iraq to capture supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its urban wing the KCK, the source said.
There were no further details on the identity of the freed foreign citizens, with the official Anadolu news agency reporting that one of them was a woman.
The authorities are still battling the over three-decade insurgency of the PKK which initially took up arms for a separate state but now demands a degree of autonomy.
The clashes between Turkish security forces and PKK members have resumed after a fragile ceasefire collapsed in 2015.
The PKK is designated as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies including the United States and the European Union.
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US airstrike kills 18 Al-Shabab after US attacked in Somalia

Updated 6 min 2 sec ago
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US airstrike kills 18 Al-Shabab after US attacked in Somalia

JOHANNESBURG: A US military airstrike has killed 18 Al-Shabab extremists after US and local forces on the ground came under attack in southern Somalia, the US Africa Command said Saturday.
No US or Somali forces were killed or injured in the attack, an AFRICOM spokesman, Nate Herring, told The Associated Press. The airstrike was carried out Friday in self-defense after extremists were “observed maneuvering on a combined patrol,” while the US also responded with “indirect fire,” the spokesman said.
The confrontation occurred about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo, the US Africa Command statement said. Two other Al-Shabab extremists were killed by Somali forces “with small arms fire during the engagement,” it said.
The operation was Somali-led, the AFRICOM spokesman said. There was no immediate comment from Somali authorities.
The US has carried out more than 20 airstrikes this year against the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa.
US military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump early in his term approved expanded operations against Al-Shabab. Dozens of drone strikes followed. Late last year the military also carried out its first airstrike against a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State in northern Somalia.
Since the expanded operations, two US military personnel have been killed in Somalia.
A service member was killed in May 2017 during an operation about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Mogadishu. And in June, one US special operations soldier was killed and four US service members wounded in an “enemy attack” as troops with Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland.
The US currently has about 500 military personnel in the Horn of Africa nation.
Al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, was pushed out of Mogadishu in recent years but continues to control rural areas in the south and central regions. Its fighters continue to attack the bases of a multinational African Union force that remains largely responsible for security as Somalia’s fragile central government tries to recover from decades of chaos.
In the next few years Somali forces are expected to take over responsibility for the country’s security as the AU force withdraws. Concerns about their readiness remain high, and the UN Security Council recently voted to delay the handover’s target date to December 2021.
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