Military campaign against PKK to continue: Minister

Military campaign against PKK to continue: Minister

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Military campaign against PKK to continue: Minister

AA photo

Turkey’s military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will continue, the country’s interior minister has promised as fresh clashes between security forces and militants resulted in the death of a child in the southeast.

“An improvised explosive device hidden at a place could claim the lives of our citizens or security forces. Removing these takes time,” Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala as saying as he published Feb. 14 figures about the latest operations targeting the group, hinting that the operations targeting the PKK would continue in towns that have been under curfew for more than two months.

“A total of 2,040 ditches and barricades have been removed. Some 2,313 [improvised explosive devices] IEDs have been destroyed; 830 long-barreled weapons – including machine guns, sharpshooters and Kalashnikovs – have been seized; 47 rocket-propelled grenades, 645 rocket projectiles, 1,000 handmade explosives, 431 hand grenades, and 98,650 ammunitions have been seized,” he said.

Ala also said curfews were ongoing in a number of southeastern districts to prevent “hidden IEDs that might cost the lives of citizens and security forces.”

“Right now, a curfew in one district is partially imposed while curfews in two districts are fully imposed. The curfew is in its 63rd day in Cizre. The curfew in Silopi is still continuing between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. A curfew is also ongoing in Sur, where it will soon end after we get positive results,” he added.

Turkey has recently stepped up efforts to fight militancy in the southeast, specifically with ground operations targeting the PKK. Local governors have imposed curfews in several towns in the country’s east and southeast to remove militants from the area.

Cizre and Silopi, two districts in the southeastern province of Şırnak, as well as Sur, a district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, have been experiencing round-the-clock or partial curfews since early December 2015.

“Some 95 percent of these six neighborhoods has been cleared out. There’s only 5 percent left,” Doğan News Agency quoted Diyarbakır Gov. Hüseyin Aksoy as saying as he spoke to reporters on Feb. 15.

Aksoy said 95 percent of the southeastern town had been cleared of militants and ditches dug by them, underscoring that 5 percent of the historic district, six of whose neighborhoods have been under military curfew since Dec. 2, 2015, needed to be cleared.

Turkish gendarmerie forces, meanwhile, found four abandoned backpacks stuffed with 50 kilograms of plastic explosives in Akçakale, a district in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa bordering Syria’s Tal Abyad, which is under Democratic Union Party (PYD) rule what Turkey sees as an offshoot of the PKK.

Ongoing clashes between security forces and PKK militants still pose a major threat to civilians as well as police and military personnel.

One child was killed and another was wounded after being hit by bullets from clashes between security forces and PKK militants in the Dicle neighborhood of southeastern Mardin’s province’s Nusaybin on Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. 

The shooting came as PKK militants staged an offensive against security forces traveling from Mardin to Cizre in armored vehicles. The clashes erupted on Aygün Street when Turkish forces returned fire. 

Two children, identified as M.A. and A.D., who were near the scene of the clashes, were hit by bullets and brought to Nusaybin State Hospital for treatment.

While 12-year-old M.A. succumbed to his wounds in hospital, the treatment of A.D., 17, is continuing.