updated 8/26/2008 6:19:51 PM ET 2008-08-26T22:19:51

Turkish troops killed 16 Kurdish rebels in clashes Tuesday in Turkey's southeast, authorities said. Five pro-government village guards were also killed.

The office of the governor of Bitlis province said 14 rebels were killed in a clash with Turkish soldiers aided by village guards near the town of Mutki. Five guards were also killed.

Two other rebels were killed Tuesday near the city of Mardin.

Rebels in the Kurdish-dominated southeast have been fighting for autonomy since 1984. Tens of thousands have been killed in the fighting.

Kurdish rebels have escalated attacks since Turkey began raiding rebel bases in northern Iraq earlier this year.

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