Five security officials wounded in operation to rescue stranded civilians in Cizre
ŞIRNAK – Doğan News Agency
AA PhotoFive security officials have been wounded in an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attack during an operation to rescue 28 injured civilians stranded in the basement of a building in the Cizre district of southeastern Şırnak province.
PKK militants in Cizre’s Cudi neighborhood opened fire against security officials using rocket launchers early on Jan. 31.
Three special operations police, identified as E.A., H.Ö. and H.Ö., and a noncommissioned officer identified as S.K. were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries at Cizre State Hospital.
However, a specialized gendarmerie sergeant identified as E.B. was transferred to Şırnak Military Hospital after sustaining severe wounds during the attack.
The Şırnak Governor’s Office released a statement on the attack, saying it took place during an operation which aimed, among other things, to “transfer wounded persons that were allegedly in the area.”
Meanwhile, a group of volunteer physicians from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and the Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services (SES) who had set off from southeastern Diyarbakır province to transfer the wounded civilians to a hospital were not permitted to enter the violence-hit district.
A total of 14 healthcare providers, including nine doctors, four nurses and an ambulance driver, were stopped by soldiers 10 kilometers from Şırnak’s İdil district. The group was told they were not permitted to enter Cizre, where a curfew has been in place since Dec. 14, 2015, upon the orders of the Şırnak Governor’s Office.
A physician from the group, Dr. Vahhac Alp, told reporters they were denied entry to the area without an official document.
“We were denied entry despite explaining to them that the prevention was in violation of the Geneva Conventions, of which Turkey is a signatory, and that vehicles and volunteer personnel carrying the symbol of the Red Cross need to be allowed into conflict zones,” Alp told reporters.
Rights groups and locals have voiced growing concern for the civilian death toll in security operations against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its youth branch, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), over the last month.
According to information obtained by Emma Sinclair-Webb, the Turkey director of Human Rights Watch, and announced on Jan. 27, four of the civilians in the cellar in Cizre had died and three were in critical condition.
On Jan. 27, three Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) parliamentarians went on a hunger strike and staged a sit-in at the offices of the Interior Ministry to force the authorities to send ambulances.
The Turkish government, however, provided a vastly different account of the plight of the civilians, arguing the HDP only wished to “create a perception about the wounded.”
“We have had two ambulances on permanent standby at the 84th crossroads for four days. This is a distance of 400-500 meters [from the cellar]. They could have brought the wounded such a short distance if they wanted to, but they do not care about the wounded,” Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu told reporters on Jan. 28.