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Turkey vows to press on with constructions in Kurdish region

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed on Monday to press ahead with the construction of dams and roads in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast, saying Turkey would not bow to Kurdish rebel threats.

Kurdish militants threatened to resume attacks on Saturday, accusing Turkey of “preparing for war” by continuing to build military outposts as well as dams and roads they claimed would be used by the military. They warned the constructions were a violation of a two-year old ceasefire brokered as part of Turkey’s fragile peace process with the Kurdish rebels.

The announcements were the latest setback to the peace efforts launched in 2012 in a bid to end the three-decade long conflict between government forces and the rebels of the autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

“Governments build roads and dams. They don’t back down through threats,” Davutoglu told reporters. He accused the Kurdish rebels of reneging on the pledge to withdraw armed fighters from Turkish territory.

The PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan declared a ceasefire in 2013 and ordered his group to withdraw fighters to bases in neighboring northern Iraq as part of the peace efforts. The ceasefire largely holds but the PKK later halted the fighters’ withdrawal, saying Turkey had not taken any steps to reciprocate.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984. Turkey and its allies regard the PKK as a terrorist group.

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