PKK missiles could down Turkish choppers, police warn
ISTANBULThe outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) possesses 50 missiles which may be used to down Turkey’s cobra helicopters, the country’s national police warned in three “confidential” reports issued in May, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet has reported.
The Turkish army admitted on May 19 that an attack helicopter that crashed on May 13 in the eastern province of Hakkari might have been shot down by an air defense system used by the PKK.
According to Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s Police Department issued confidential information notes on May 17, 26 and 28 warning against new weapons acquired by the militant organization and their possible use. The PKK obtained a total of 50 missiles, the report said.
In the note dated May 17, police noted that a militant reportedly in charge of PKK activities in the northeastern provinces of Kars, Ardahan, Iğdır and Ağrı, Selahattin K., arrived at the Mahir village of Kars on May 16.
Based on wiretappings on the militant’s walkie-talkie, police suggested that he facilitated an arms transfer from PKK militants in Armenia to either the Tuzluca area of Iğdır or the Digor area of Kars.
The weapons may be used in “sensational” attacks, the report added.
This was followed by a second note on May 26 reporting that weapons and ammunition were transferred to the PKK’s Şehidan camp in Iran, warning they may be brought to Turkey due to the area’s proximity to Turkish territory.
Three of the weapons might be shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, known as man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), the report added.
Finally, in a third note addressed to police departments in 29 eastern and southeastern provinces, the department warned against a repetition of the May 13 downing of a chopper.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) issued a written statement six days after the crash, saying a helicopter that was deployed to the Çukurca district of Hakkari to provide air support to a military outpost experiencing a PKK attack may have been hit by militant fire – most probably a missile.
Two pilots in the helicopter as well as six troops defending the outpost were killed while 13 were wounded in the ambush, the statement said.