Kurdish PKK rebels deny reports that four leaders
killed in Iraqi Kurdistan
Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan region (Iraq), -- The
separatist Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) on Saturday
denied Turkish reports that four of its leaders had
been killed in a suicide attack in a camp in
Kurdistan (northern Iraq).
According to the reports,
four rebels were killed
in what newspapers said appeared to have been a
settling of scores at a rear base of the PKK in the
Qandil mountains, close to Iraq's border with Iran
A member of the PKK was said to have set off a belt
packed with explosives during a meeting of PKK
cadres, killing four of them and himself.
But a PKK spokesman denied there had been any
attack, and accused the Turkish media of regularly
publishing false reports about his movement, which
is regarded as a terrorist group by much of the
"The news that circulated on a number of media
outlets in Turkey had no factual basis. There was no
explosion and no one was wounded," Abdelrahman
Chadarchi told AFP.
The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey's
mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984 in a conflict
that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
Rebels have stepped up their attacks this year,
while Ankara has massed troops on the border with
Iraq, fuelling speculation it will launch a
Ankara says it has grown weary of rebels enjoying a
safe haven in northern Iraq, where they obtain
weapons and explosives to launch attacks against
Turkish targets across the border.
It has also accused the northern Iraqi Kurds of
turning a blind eye to PKK presence on their
territory and even supporting them.
Washington is opposed to any Turkish military
action, fearing this could destabilise the
relatively peaceful region and further strain tense
relations between Ankara and the Iraqi Kurds,
staunch US allies.
The Turkish dailies Hurriyet and Sabah said Riza
Altun, one of the founders of the PKK and its chief
financial operator, was one of those present at the
time of the alleged explosion and said his fate was
Altun was placed under investigation in France in
February for suspected terrorist activities and
barred from leaving the Paris region.
He managed nevertheless to slip out the country to
Austria where authorities allowed him to go on to
northern Iraq despite an international warrant being
out for his arrest.
Last week Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul
lashed out at Austria for failing to extradite Altun,
describing it as "a very big mistake" and saying it
"erodes the foundations of the international
struggle against terrorism."
** The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously
rejected due to its alleged political implications
by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize
the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast
Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in
Turkey and are denied rights granted to other
minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently
granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and
education in the Kurdish language, but critics say
the measures do not go far enough.
Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in
Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia),
which covers an area as big as France, about half of
all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in
Turkey is home to over 25 million ethnic Kurds, some
of whom openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a
Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish
southeast of Turkey.
Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed
severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language,
prohibiting the language in education and broadcast
The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized
in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q
which do not exist in the Turkish
alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and
The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan
but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag
is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it
is a criminal offence"
North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey)
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the content of news
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