POLITICS > Attack kills 10 soldiers despite PM’s call for lull

BİNGÖL - Doğan News Agency

PM Erdoğan’s conditional call for a halt to violence between the army and the PKK falls on deaf ears as militants kill at least 10 soldiers in a raid on a convoy

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Black smoke rises from a bus carrying Turkish soldiers which was hit by a suspected attack by the outlawed PKK militants. The attack kills at least 10, injuring over 70. AFP photo

Black smoke rises from a bus carrying Turkish soldiers which was hit by a suspected attack by the outlawed PKK militants. The attack kills at least 10, injuring over 70. AFP photo

At least 10 Turkish soldiers were killed and some 71 were injured yesterday after a Turkish military convoy transporting unarmed soldiers returning from leave to their posts was hit by a rocket before coming under fire in an ambush conducted by suspected militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the eastern province of Bingöl.

More than 200 soldiers returning from leave were being transported to their respective military units by a convoy of five buses, with 10 armored vehicles escorting the transports. The traveling soldiers were unarmed and in civilian clothing, Bingöl Gov. Mustafa Hakan Güvençer said, speaking to private broadcaster CNNTürk after the attack.

The attack came one day after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the military operations would stop if the PKK laid down its arms.

“The terrorists should know that if they drop their arms, then the operations in the country will end. But arms cannot be silenced as long as the terrorists do not drop their arms. They would target innocent people at every opportunity [if the operations were to cease],” the prime minister said, speaking at an event in the Aegean province of Denizli.

Erdoğan was to meet with Chief of Staff Gen. Necdet Özel later yesterday.

This was the second deadly attack in the region by suspected PKK militants in the last three days, following the mine attack on a police bus in Bingöl’s Karlıova district on Sept. 16 that killed eight policemen and wounded nine others.

Eight injured soldiers were in “critical condition,” and they were transferred to more sophisticated hospitals in neighboring provinces, Gov. Güvençer said. “Those aboard the convoy were soldiers in civilian clothes and they were unarmed. The [the attackers] laid an ambush for our civilian and unarmed brothers. I hope the number of our martyrs will not increase. The evil organization has shown its ugly face once again, like it did in the atrocious attack of 1993.”

The 1993 Bingöl attack was one of the most violent PKK attacks to date, killing 33 unarmed soldiers at a roadblock in the city. The attack shattered a brief unilateral cease-fire by the PKK.

Bus hit by rocket

The convoy was traveling on the road between Bingöl and Muş when a bus in the convoy was hit by a rocket at around 12:45 p.m. Militants hiding on the side of the road opened fire on the vehicles with assault rifles, prompting a firefight with soldiers guarding the convoy. The bus that was hit by the rocket caught on fire, and the soldiers trapped inside the vehicle escaped through the smashed windows as the clash erupted.

Transfers of soldiers to their posts like this one are conducted only on “safe days,” and the soldiers’ security was protected by armored vehicles, an official told Hürriyet Daily News’s Ankara bureau yesterday.

A village guard who was on the scene told Doğan news agency that he went up to the blast zone immediately following the attack. “There were no explosives planted in the ground. They launched two rockets from a hill, striking one of the vehicles. It went up in a ball of flame,” he was quoted as saying.


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Notice on comments

Adam Polk

9/20/2012 12:31:00 AM

Arnold Yesovitch, sam steel is just showing how happy he is because PKK terrorists killed 10 unarmed Turkish soldiers. he thinks Turkish people feel happy when hamas attack civilians but we dont.

Arnold Yesovitch

9/19/2012 11:48:11 PM

sam steel. What does this report about Turkey and the Kurds have to do with Israel and the Palestinians. If you want to say they are a similar scenario that would make sense. In the meantime let Turkey feel the pain that Israel has been feeling for decades.

Tekion Particle

9/19/2012 7:04:28 PM

@Aryeh it is not that simple. There are more Kurds in Istanbul than Diyarbakir and all the other big cities in the south east combined. What happens those people if you create a semi autonomous or independent region for Kurds? Do they pack up and go to the new Kurdistan? If they don't then what was the point of all that?

Aryeh Rapaport

9/19/2012 4:24:40 PM

I dont support PKK - target innocent civilians. We should not be surprised though because its clear theres a problem. Its clear Turks have been trying to eliminate the problem for decades yet failed time & time again. Turks need to understand Kurdish problem cant be eliminated for its an idea and Ideas cant be eliminated! I argue Its in Turkeys interest to help Establish Independent Kurdistan. Instability is bad for Turkey! Stability, development, investment, growth, peace is good for Turkey!!


9/19/2012 3:32:13 PM

There is one thing I believe that I'll never get a logical answer.Turkey's one of North Atlantik Treaty Organisation member.Everyone knows that Nato's not a simple organisation,not just a defense aggrement,includin' abt 19 members. At that time ABD declared that Nato member religions&consensus statements always have to protected. Besides aim is not reaching a common power.Why I'm saying that terrorism in Turkey have to stopped by Nato whether we are under Nato's umbrella.


9/19/2012 3:14:07 PM

Mike Taylor, you're implying PKK kills because Kurds' rights are abused. Kurds' rights are indeed abused but that's not the reason for PKK's terror, just like abusing rights weren't the reason for IRA's and ETA's terror. PKK's opening act in 1970s centred on killing Kurds. Today it kills Turks and Kurds alike. It has a voice in the parliament (BDP) and access to Turkish media. No need for terror, but, like all terrorist organisations, it prefers to kill because it doesn't know anything else.

mara mcglothin

9/19/2012 2:43:27 PM

The lull is coming! The PM will get his wish. It is almost Winter time and every year there a lull while everyone regroups! The PKK will head to the mountains and have a nice vacation and the AKP will say it is because of them that the fighting has stopped. Just like every other year. Same old same old

Recep Ozel

9/19/2012 11:54:35 AM

We have had 700 military deaths in the last 14 months through the struggle with the PKK. This in unprecedented! Over the last 10 years our government has made huge strategic mistakes. We have lost control of the Iraq and Syria borders whilst the PKK are being allowed to flourish in both those countries. 10 years ago we had the PKK silenced, Northern Iraq under control, and the Syrian government stopping the PKK in Syria. How did we allow ourselves to get in this mess and why are we continuing?

m Hashemi

9/19/2012 10:48:03 AM

It is wiser to seek a logical solution in stead of blaming officers.Dear fellow citizens, should look at both side as Turkish citizens .Look at Afghanistan , who want to sit down with Taliban who has no respect for law and human being and Turkish government support this proposal.Be realistic ,there is more than twenty million Kurds live in Turkey ,it is insane to ignore this huge population.Indeed,it is possible to end this violence, when admit others has right to have the same wish as we do.

Rimon Tree

9/19/2012 9:09:20 AM

It's high time to realize that the ONLY was is to negotiate, like it or not, you might kill 500 and another 1.000 will shoot up like mushrooms to replace them, but the esteemed PM is just to stubborn to admit it and still can't believe that not everything goes according to his personal preferences! And so the madness will go on and on, but I don't think that the Turkish people will go along with that for much more time!
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