Supporters of militant Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan gather at a gathering in March 2013.

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Four Turkish troops were wounded in the flight, according to the country's military

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says clashes are attempt to halt a resolution process with Kurds

Violence between Kurds and the Turkish military has been ongoing for more than three decades

CNN  — 

Five militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party were killed and another was wounded in clashes with Turkish armed forces in eastern Turkey, the country’s military said Saturday.

Four Turkish soldiers also were wounded in the fighting that took place in the eastern city of Agri, the armed forces said in a written statement.

The Kurdish separatists opened fire from a long distance, targeting Turkish soldiers who were securing an area in Agri ahead of a spring festival, CNN Turk reported.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu condemned the violence and said via Twitter that “the appropriate answer to the heinous attack in Agri is being given by the Turkish armed forces.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also harshly condemned the attack, describing it as the Kurdish separatists’ attempt to “intervene in the resolution process (with the Kurds) in our country.”

Last month, Abdullah Ocalan, longtime leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), called from his jail cell for the violence to end. In a historic letter, he urged fighters under his command to lay down their arms, stop their war against the Turkish state and join a “congress” to focus on the future.

Since the first incidents more than three decades ago, an estimated 40,000 lives have been lost.

The conflict has been, some say, a battle by activists among Turkey’s Kurdish minority for independence. It has been, others say, a guerrilla war by rebels who have punctuated their campaign with terrorist acts.

About a fifth of Turkey’s population is Kurdish – a minority long living under cultural oppression, most of them in the underdeveloped southeastern part of Turkey.

From Turkish prison, Kurdish leader tells followers to lay down their arms