Five PKK militants killed, four soldiers injured in clashes, Turkish military says

Five PKK militants killed, four soldiers injured in clashes, Turkish military says

AĞRI - Doğan News Agency
Five PKK militants killed, four soldiers injured in clashes, Turkish military says

This file photo shows a Turkish soldier in a military post in eastern Turkey. AA photo

Five militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were killed and four soldiers were injured in clashes in the eastern province of Ağrı on April 11, Turkish military said.

“Four of our personnel who were injured in clashes that continued all day were transferred to the hospital. Three have minor injuries, while one has underwent an operation,” Turkish General Staff said in a written statement.

“On the other hand, we have received information that five terrorists were killed and one terrorist was captured wounded,” the statement added.

In an earlier statement, the military said PKK militants opened fire on the security forces. 

“Upon intelligence that the separatist terror organization will organize an event named ‘Spring Festival’ on April 11-12 in Yukarıtütek village near Diyadin district of Ağrı, and they will promote the separatist terror organization and pressure our citizens to vote for candidates they are supporting in the elections, a security force of 15 teams were sent to the area upon the orders of the Ağrı Governor’s Office to ensure public order,” Turkish General Staff said in a written statement. 

“Separatist terror organization” is a termed used by the Turkish military to define the outlawed PKK. 

“During the positioning in the region, members of the separatist terror organization members opened fire on our elements. The attack was promptly responded and four of our military personnel were injured in the first fire,” the statement added. 

“A reconnaissance plane, armed helicopters and additional commando units have been dispatched to the area and the clashes are ongoing,” the military said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the attack on April 11, while also slamming the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), accusing it of trying to gain votes over the PKK actions. 

“Today, the separatist terror organization, which aims to dynamite the peace in our country, sabotage the solution process, attacked our security forces who serve to ensure the security of our nation. I strongly condemn this attack,” Erdoğan said in a speeh in the northwestern province of Sakarya. 

“The clashes are ongoing, 25 terrorist are clashing with our security forces,” he added.

“The known political party is in efforts to gain votes with the actions of this separatist terror organization. If they say democracy, if they says basic rights and freedoms, the way to this is the polls, not arms.”

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said “the necessary response is being given to the treacherous attack.”

“I just received information again from our Chief of General Staff and Interior Ministry officials,” Davutoğlu said on his Twitter account. “Nobody should be in doubt. The security of the elections in which our people will vote with their free will be ensured.”

Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan, who is the main government figure in the ongoing Kurdish peace process, also condemned the attack in a message on Twitter .

“Involving pressure, violence and arms in the political competition, trying to forcefully control the people’s will cannot be accepted,” he wrote. “Those who play with fire will lose.”

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, meanwhile, accused the General Staff of “working for the AKP.”

“It is a concerning development, both sides should make satisfactory explanations about the situation,” Demirtaş said when asked about the clashes, criticizing the General Staff for its statement on voting pressure on the citizens. 

“It would be good if the General Staff gave up working for the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP,” he said. “The army is the country’s army, not a party’s. It is not a party running in the elections, it would be better if they do not make such election-related speculative remarks.”

The clashes come two months before a general election on June 7 and amid a delicate ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish military, which has held for over two years.

Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, urged the outlawed group to convene an extraordinary congress to “end the 40-year-long armed struggle” against Turkey in a letter read out during the Nevruz celebrations in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on March 21.

In his letter, Öcalan also stressed the need for a “democratic solution” to Turkey’s Kurdish problem, arguing that the “meaningless and merciless identity wars” were the result of “the neoliberal crisis caused by the imperialist capitalism and its local collaborators.”

He issued his first call on the PKK to declare a ceasefire during Nevruz in 2013, which was followed by a peace process involving negotiations between the government, the HDP, and Öcalan.