Turkey's generals are becoming increasingly alarmed as a sharp rise in political terrorism takes a mounting toll of Turkish soldiers.

The growth of terrorism here also is intensifying strains on the civilian government of Prime Minister Suleiman Demirel, whose proposals for tough new attiterrorist legislation are being challenged by the political opposition.

Since last November, terrorists of a variety of political strips reportedly have killed nearly 900 persons, more than double the number killed during a comparable period the previous year.

Some generals believe that nothing less than an "underclared civil war" is in progress in Turkey.

Among the victims have been professors, students, journalists, prosecutors and judges.

Now, however, some terrorists increaslingly are turning their weapons on the Army, which administers martial law in 20 of Turkey's 67 provinces -- including Ankara and Istanbul where about half the 45 million population lives.

Nearly a dozen soldiers have been reported murdered in hit-and-run attacks in the past month or so.

On Monday evening, a gang of up to five terrorists opened fire on a crowd in a shopping arcade in Istanbul, killing five persons and wounding three. Soon afterward an anonymous caller told a local news agency that the attack was carried out to protest the ninth anniversary of a 1971 Turkish military coup that led to repression of leftists.

The caller said the shooting was "a warning to fascist generals."

The government has blamed such shootings on Turkey's extreme left wing, which is split into numerous groups. Observers believe right-wing terrorists are lying low to allow the right-of-center Demirel to vent his wrath on their leftist adversaries.

The latest surge of terrorist violence has prompted Turkish generals to demand greater powers to combat those who are murdering then soldiers.

In January, the Turkish of staff, Gen. Kenan Evren, and four top commanders warned politicians, to stop bickering and adopt a common line to fight terrorism. Since then, in a rare show of cooperation, Turkey's parties legislated five antiterrorist bills. Five more are pending.

Demirel also proposes special courts for terrorists and a state of emergency bill. He may be blocked by Bulent Ecevit, the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party, who says he is concerned that liberties may be curbed. Ecevit believes that Demirel's measures may lead the country to a "South American type of dictatorship."

Edmirel appears to have been incensed by the murder of soldiers. He announced that he would reactivate a dormant law allowing security forces to shoot wanted terrorists on sight. He evidently realizes that as the violence directed at the army increases, the generals -- already under pressure from younger officers -- may become more impatient.

"Let no one think that I will give these people flowers," Demirel said recently, referring to the terrorists. "The state will not tremble before murdering bums. I will make them sorry that they were born."