Kurdish militants set to halt Turkey hostilities in Feb - paper

ISTANBUL Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:19pm IST

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - 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, a newspaper report said on Tuesday.

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 Hurriyet daily said.

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 southeastern 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 paper did not identify its sources and officials were not immediately available to comment.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathon Burch)

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