Turkey suspends over 10,000 teachers for 'Kurdish militant links': official

Istanbul (AFP) - Turkey has suspended more than 10,000 teachers over suspected links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Turkish official said on Thursday, following a purge of education staff in the wake of the failed coup bid.

"The individuals in question are temporarily suspended -- placed on paid leave -- pending formal investigation," the official said on condition of anonymity.

A total of 11,500 teachers suspected by the education ministry of having engaged in activities "in support of the separatist terrorist organisation and its affiliates" have been suspended, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

The number was expected to go up to 14,000 based on the results of an investigation carried out in coordination with local governors' offices, Anadolu said, without elaborating further.

The suspension comes just over a week before the new school year gets underway in Turkey.

In a key visit to the Kurdish-majority city Diyarbakir in the southeast on Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said up to 14,000 teachers would be suspended over links to the PKK.

There are 850,000 teachers in Turkey.

The insurgency in the southeast has resumed after the collapse last year of a fragile ceasefire declared by the PKK.

The latest move comes after the government has purged tens of thousands of education personnel, including teachers and university academics, after the July 15 coup attempt seeking to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Turkish authorities have blamed the coup on Erdogan's arch-foe, US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The government has vowed to press on with its campaign to eradicate the PKK from southeastern Turkey.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkey's Kurdish minority.