Hundreds of PKK militants killed in anti-terror ops in southeast
DİYARBAKIR / ŞIRNAK
AA PhotoTurkey has killed hundreds of militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as counter-terrorism operations ended in two southeastern towns that had been under weeks-long military curfews.
Turkish security forces killed at least 268 PKK militants in Sur, a historic central district in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, over the course of a 103-day counterterrorism operation that started on Nov. 28, 2015, the day when prominent lawyer and human rights activist Tahir Elçi was shot dead in Sur during clashes after gunmen opened fire at a police post.
In the country’s southeastern town of İdil, the Turkish army killed at least 120 PKK militants over the course of a 20-day operation that ended late on March 8, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Six militants were killed in clashes that erupted between security forces and PKK militants after the latter opened fire from a trench dug inside a home in İdil, a district in the southeastern province of Şırnak, during a security check on March 9. A non-commissioned officer was reported to have been wounded in the exchange of fire. He was taken to İdil Public Hospital for initial treatment and then to Şırnak Public Hospital.
Counterterrorism raids are expected to continue, with Interior Minister Efkan Ala signaling that it “may go on for a long time.”
Ala told daily Milliyet on March 9 that operations in İdil had come to an end, but there remained trenches and barricades in the Yüksekova district of the southeastern province of Hakkari and the Nusaybin district of the southeastern Mardin province, as well as several neighborhoods in downtown Şırnak.
Doğan News Agency reported that 19 militants were killed in İdil, a district in the southeastern province of Şırnak, on March 8, when Turkish security forces conducting multiple raids.
Senior militant leaders were reportedly among those killed during the raids, as well as five snipers. Security forces also found documents showing suicide bomb training and sniper training during the operations.
Abdullah Ecevit, the İdil-based leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) with a nickname “Adnan,” a militant leader based in the Turgut Özal neighborhood with a nickname “Kendal,” and an İdil-based field inspector of the militant group with a nickname “Reşit,” were among those killed.
Turkish medical staff retrieved 21 dead bodies, whose identities have yet to be revealed, from the Turgut Özal neighborhood, transferring them to the morgue of İdil Public Hospital. Nine were then sent to the southeastern province of Mardin and the other 12 were reported to be awaiting their relatives.
Meanwhile, security sources said three new police stations will be constructed in İdil’s Turgut Özal and Yeni Mahalle neighborhoods as part of new measures to be taken in the district to prevent the creation of new barricades and trenches by PKK militants.
Three new checkpoints will also be built in the district’s entries and exits, with around 750 riot and counterterrorism police forces to be deployed at checkpoints and police stations in the area.
During the 20-day operation in İdil, improvised explosive devices weighing 10 tons were discovered by security forces, while PKK militants used a school as a weapons depot, Anadolu Agency reported.
Some 144 hand grenades, five snipers, 47 long-barreled weapons, five rocket-launchers and six pistols along with materials used in bomb making were seized during the operation. More than 3,000 homes were reportedly checked, while 170 barricades and 60 trenches were removed.
A blanket curfew remains in place in neighborhoods of İdil.
A round-the-clock curfew went into effect in downtown İdil and the district’s Dirsekli village starting from 11 p.m. on Feb. 16. The large-scale counterterrorism operation then started in the town on Feb. 18, continuing for 20 days.
Turkey has recently conducted sweeping ground operations targeting the PKK in the southeast, with local governors imposing curfews in several towns to remove militants from the area as well as to remove barricades and trenches created by militants.
Meanwhile, in the eastern province of Tunceli, 10 shelters used by PKK militants were discovered in counterterrorism raids on March 8. The shelters in a rural part of Tunceli’s Nazimiye district were reported to have stored weapons, ammunition, and material used in bomb making.
The Tunceli Governor’s Office said in a written statement on March 9 that a 500-meter-long cable used for making improvised explosive devices (IED), two battery blocs, a suicide bombing vest, several tents, sleeping bags, several pairs of shoes, backpacks, and a large amount of lethal material, were found in shelters used by the militant group.