DIYARBAKIR, Turkey  - Four special force police officers were killed in a clash with Kurdish militants in a mountainous area of southeast Turkey on Wednesday amid heightened tensions in the region over Kurdish new year celebrations. Cobra attack helicopters fired on a suspected group of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants on Cudi mountain in Sirnak province. Other helicopters lowered special forces onto the mountain, security officials told Reuters. Three soldiers were wounded, another security source said but no further details were immediately available. Military reinforcements were sent to the area.

Separately, one police officer was wounded in a small explosion near offices of the ruling AK Party in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country, another security official said.

The violence occurred a day after Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon in clashes with thousands of Kurdish protesters gathered at unauthorised New Year celebrations across southeastern Turkey.

One police officer died as a result of his wounds sustained during those clashes, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told AK Party deputies in parliament on Wednesday.

Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party and PKK militants had called for large protests ahead of the Kurdish New Year which falls on Wednesday.

The PKK launched an armed insurgency against the state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.