The Turkish press reported on Monday that security forces shot dead two villagers gathering herbs in northern Kurdistan after mistaking them for Kurdish resistance fighters.

According to the state-run Anatolian news agency, the killings coincided with an increase in rebel activity by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas against Turkish military targets.

The villagers were collecting thyme when security forces opened fire at Hassa in Hatay province, the agency said without specifying when the killings took place. A third villager was reportedly wounded in the incident.

The nearby Mediterranean port of Iskenderun was the scene of a PKK rocket attack that killed six soldiers at the end of May.

Since then, Kurdish freedom fighters have initiated daring attacks on foreign military positions in portions of their homeland occupied by Turkey and on a bus carrying military personnel in Istanbul.

More than 45,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in the conflict since the PKK launched a revolt against Turkish rule in 1984 with the aim of establishing a Kurdish state in their ancestral homeland. The United States has announced that it sides with Turkey in the conflict.