News agency says 4 civilians killed by landmine blast in southeastern Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Four civilians died when their vehicle hit a landmine that Kurdish rebels are suspected of planting in southeastern Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday.

The four were heading to an oil-exploration site where the rebels had set a small fire, the state-run agency said, citing local officials it did not identify. Anatolia said the dead included the former head of the local bar association in Batman.

Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in Turkey's southeast, have intensified their attacks since June, saying the government has rejected their calls for a dialogue. Turkey refuses to negotiate with the rebels, who are branded as terrorists by the West. But the Turkish government has introduced a number of reforms, including allowing Kurdish language broadcasts on television, in an attempt to reconcile with the minority Kurds in the hopes of ending the fighting.

The conflict has killed as many as 40,000 people since 1984.