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Kurds, who make up around 20 percent of Turkey’s 74 million people, have long felt marginalized in the country and many want autonomy in Kurdish-dominated southeast Turkey. Since Kurdish rebels took up arms in 1984, tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict with the state.

The rebels have long used northern Iraq as a springboard for hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets. This year, Turkey’s air force has launched dozens of air raids on suspected rebel bases and other targets in northern Iraq and along the Turkish side of the mountainous border.

Turkish authorities said at least 48 suspected rebels were killed in two offensives backed by air power in southeast Turkey last week.

The government also has taken steps toward improving the standing of Kurds, including by allowing Kurdish-language institutes and private Kurdish courses as well as Kurdish television broadcasts. But it won’t permit lower-level education in Kurdish.

The European Union, which Turkey is striving to join, has pushed the Turkish government to grant more rights to the Kurds. But EU countries also have urged Kurdish lawmakers to distance themselves from the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the EU.

Associated Press writer Yahya Barzanji in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, contributed.