Hundreds of Kurdish militants have ended a hunger strike in jails across Turkey in response to an appeal from their leader, fuelling hopes a deal has been struck that could revive talks to end a decades-old conflict.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan called on his supporters to end their protest after holding a series of discussions with Turkish MIT intelligence.

MIT officials have held secret meetings with PKK representatives in Oslo in recent years, and in September Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said more talks were possible.

Loading article content

More than 40,000 people have been killed in 28 years of fighting between Turkey and the PKK – designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

In the latest violence, five Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with PKK fighters in Hakkari province near the border with Iraq yesterday.

Mr Ocalan's call for an end to the hunger strike, which militants staged to demand an end to his isolation in an island prison south of Istanbul, was announced by his brother on Saturday.

As well as an end to Mr Ocalan's isolation and limited access to lawyers, they had demanded greater use of the Kurdish language in schools and other institutions. There was no indication of whether their demands had been met.