Turkish military says kills 49 Kurdish PKK
CUKURCA, The Kurdish
region of Turkey, — The Turkish military said on
Saturday its forces had killed 49 Kurdish militants
in the southeast over the last two days, during an
offensive to avenge the killing of 24 Turkish
soldiers by Kurdish fighters earlier this week.
The counter-insurgency operation against separatist
rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK),
involving thousands of troops and into its third
day, has focused on both sides of the mountainous
Turkey-Iraqi Kurdistan border.
Ankara's reaction to one of the deadliest attacks on
its security forces in a conflict that began
A Turkish military Cobra helicopter release flares
over a mountain in Cukurca, near the Iraqi Kurdistan
region border in southeastern Turkey October 22,
2011 Photo Osman Orsal/Reuters
three decades ago has ignited speculation that
Turkey could move to a full blown incursion to clear
out PKK camps deeper inside Iraqi Kurdistan region.
The military said it had
spotted 35 militants during the early
hours of Saturday morning in the Kazan valley in
Cukurca, a district of Hakkari province located
along the Iraqi Kurdistan region border.
Cukurca is where many of the 24 Turkish soldiers
were killed when PKK militants attacked several
mountain military outposts on Wednesday.
Turkish forces launched artillery raids, followed by
air strikes against the militants during the night,
Turkey's general staff said in a statement on its
website, adding that troops had later discovered the
dead bodies of 35 fighters.
The bodies of 14 other militants were discovered in
the same valley nearby, seven of them in a cave,
bringing the total number of fighters killed in the
last two days to 49, it said.
While the military has not provided a number for how
many soldiers are engaged in the operations, it said
on Friday it had deployed troops from 22 battalions
in five different areas, meaning there could be more
than 10,000 troops involved.
In Cukurca, several military personnel and attack
helicopters could be seen flying overhead but there
was little military movement on the ground. A
Reuters reporter was stopped by Turkish soldiers
from entering the road leading to the Kazan valley.
Cukurca and the surrounding area is located high in
the mountains above the Zab valley, a narrow gorge
that cuts its way through the district. The Zab
river winds its way along the gorge before flowing
into the Tigris in Kurdistan region in Iraq's north.
CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
In Kurdish town of Cukurca, no more than a few dozen
houses clinging to the side of the mountain,
residents dismissed the Turkish military offensive
as a fact of life.
"We are used to these helicopters flying overhead
every day now," said one man in his 20s as he sat
down in one of the town's two restaurants.
"What can we do? We like both sides but we are
constantly under pressure, we just want peace," he
said referring to the Turkish military and the PKK.
The man did not want to be identified for fear of
Other residents suggested they were caught in the
middle, saying they feared for their lives during
Wednesday's PKK attack.
"The bullets came down like rain. We just laid down
on the ground wherever we were and prayed we would
be alright. The attacks went on for hours," another
The PKK has stepped up attacks on Turkish security
forces in recent months and Wednesday's raid was one
of the bloodiest for Turkish forces. Turkey's
President Abdullah Gul has vowed "great revenge" for
While Turkey's strong response to the attacks may
appease a large portion of the Turkish public,www.ekurd.net
many Turks and Kurds have grown weary of the
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government has
passed cultural and political reforms favouring
ethnic Kurds, some 20 percent of the population,
aimed at ending violence fed by grievances for which
the Kurds have long enjoyed international sympathy.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been
fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the
constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a
Kurdish state in the south east of the country,
sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous
Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic
Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in
Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large
Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with
the Kurdish PKK rebels.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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