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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - The Turkish military killed three Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in a clash in northern Iraq near the border with Turkey on Thursday evening and one Turkish soldier was also killed, security sources said.

The sources said four Turkish soldiers were wounded in the firefight in the Kanimasi area of Iraq's Dohuk region, across the border from Turkey's Cukurca district.

The clash occurred as Turkish and Iraqi troops hold military exercises some 100 km (60 miles) to the west at the Habur border gate, part of coordinated steps by the two countries in response to the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum.

Turkish soldiers have for years been deployed in various parts of northern Iraq, including at Kanimasi, to prevent PKK militants crossing the border into Turkey, security sources say.

Commanders of the PKK, which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, are based in the mountains of northern Iraq.

Turkish warplanes frequently carry out cross-border air strikes against PKK targets there but reports of clashes on land there are rare.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the PKK launched its separatist insurgency in 1984.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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Reuters