ISTANBUL - Three people have been killed in fresh clashes between Turkish police and Kurdish rebel supporters in the restive Kurdish-majority southeast, local officials said Friday.

At least seven people, including two police officers, were also injured in the shooting that erupted overnight in the Silopi district of Sirnak province, near the border with Iraq and Syria, the Sirnak governor’s office said in a statement.

The statement said that supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacked the security forces with homemade explosives, rocket launchers and long-range rifles, as well as by placing barricades and mines.

Three Kurds, one of them a 17-year-old, died of gunshot wounds in hospital, Silopi mayor Seyfettin Aydemir told AFP.

“Snipers are positioned on the rooftops. It’s not safe here,” Aydemir said.

The official Anatolia news agency said that the shootout erupted after police came under fire as they were sealing trenches which had been dug by the PKK youth wing to prevent the force from entering neighbourhoods and detaining suspected militants.

The media said clashes were continuing in and around Silopi, with television footage showing columns of smoke billowing from the buildings while gunfire and loud booms were heard in the background.

Ferhat Encu, a lawmaker from pro-Kurdish Democratic Party (HDP), claimed on Twitter that police had set six houses alight and opened fire on an ambulance carrying wounded civilians to the hospital.

“Kurdish people will never forget this atrocity,” he wrote, sharing a picture of a neighbourhood in Silopi engulfed in flames.

After a series of attacks in Turkey, Ankara has launched a two-pronged offensive to bomb Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and PKK rebels in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey.

So far, the operation has focused largely on the Kurdish rebels.

The spiral of violence sparked by the killing of 32 pro-Kurdish activists in a bombing by suspected IS militants last month has left a 2013 ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK in tatters.

According to an AFP toll, 20 members of the Turkish security forces have since died in attacks blamed on the PKK.

Turkish authorities have arrested more than 1,300 suspects since late last month in police raids across Turkey targeting suspected members of the PKK as well as IS and the Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C).

The PKK, designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States, took up arms for self-rule in the southeast in 1984, and the conflict has since claimed tens of thousands of lives.