Turkey's state-run agency says clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels in the southeast of the country have left nine people dead.

The Anatolia news agency says Saturday three Turkish troops and three Kurdish rebels were killed in fighting that broke out in Hakkari province, near the border with Iraq.

The agency said rebels also attacked a military unit in Bitlis province, northwest of Hakkari, killing three government-paid village guards who are helping the Turkish security forces.

The attack comes amid a sharp escalation in violence over the past few months in Turkey's southeast, where the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, are fighting for self-rule for Kurds.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the group took up arms in 1984.