Two Protesters Killed in Clashes with Police in Southeast Turkey

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Two protesters were killed Monday in clashes with police in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir amid growing tensions over a days-long curfew, security sources said.

The two demonstrators, aged 21 and 25, were shot dead in violent clashes that erupted over the curfew that has been in place in the city's central Sur district almost uninterrupted since December 2, a security source told AFP, asking not to be named.

The circumstances of the deaths were not immediately clear. At least two other people were wounded and some 40 arrested.

Police had used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters seeking to march towards the Sur district, which is currently under a security lockdown.

The authorities have allowed only a single break in the curfew of less than a full day on December 11, allowing some trapped residents to leave the area.

The curfew in Sur was imposed shortly after prominent Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elci was killed in broad daylight in the narrow streets of the district on November 28, in a crime that remains unsolved. 

The Turkish government has been waging a relentless offensive aimed at crippling the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has staged a string of attacks against security forces in Turkey since a two-year-old ceasefire fell apart in late July. 

The authorities have in recent months imposed curfews lasting up to two weeks in several towns in the southeast to back up military operations against the PKK.

The measures have proved controversial, with activists saying they deprive residents of vital services and put their health at risk. 

But the government insists the curfews are needed to ensure the safety of citizens during essential operations.

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