turkey protest erdogan.jpg
Photograph: EPA/GREGOR FISCHER

Turkey's Constitutional Court on Friday rejected a petition for ambulances to be allowed to evacuate about 20 people trapped for nearly a week in a basement in the embattled south-eastern town of Cizre.

The court said the information it required was not available, including whether the injured have weapons.

It noted in a statement that judges did not have the exact number of injured or how they got hurt, and the address was also not specific.

Fighting between state security forces and Kurdish militants has been ongoing in Cizre for more than six weeks. The town is among several areas in the mostly Kurdish south-east under a tight 24-hour curfew, which has been sharply criticized by rights groups.

More than 20 people were trapped in the basement on Saturday. Six have since died of their wounds, Kurdish officials said, and the corpses are in the same small space as the injured who reportedly lack water and other basic provisions.

Efforts to bring in ambulances have so far failed - Kurdish civilian officials blame security forces, while the Turkish government blames fighting in the area.

Turkish channel IMC broadcast images Friday of an ambulance attempting once again to enter the street, only to get blocked by military vehicles.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the claims about the denial of medical service were "all lies" and suggested the Kurdish militants were trying to gain a military advantage.

"Maybe they are not even injured," state run Anadolu news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.

A two-year ceasefire between the state and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) broke down in July after peace talks stagnated. The war has claimed more than 40,000 lives since the 1980s.

Kurds in Turkey have long complained of systemic discrimination while the government says the PKK is a terrorist group.

In the past six months, at least 245 security forces have been killed while the PKK has confirmed 257 fighters died, according to data from the International Crisis Group.

Kurdish officials say about 200 civilians have also been killed.

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