Turkish security forces killed eight Kurdish militants in fighting in eastern Turkey on Thursday, security sources said.

Helicopter gunships were dispatched to a camp thought to be a winter compound for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas in Bingol province, where the clashes were continuing.

Five of the militants killed were women, security sources told Reuters.

The PKK, which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 with the aim of carving out an ethnic Kurdish homeland, is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the separatist conflict.

Winter is traditionally a season of lowered tensions between Kurdish guerrillas and Turkish security forces due to harsh conditions in the mountainous region.

(Writing by Ece Toksabay)