PKK attacks rage in west, east as one soldier killed

PKK attacks rage in west, east as one soldier killed

PKK attacks rage in west, east as one soldier killed

One Turkish soldier was killed and 11 were injured when a landmine exploded as a military bus was passing on a road in the Aegean city of İzmir’s Foça district. DHA photo

With military operations in Turkey’s southeast continuing after more than two weeks, militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have attacked Turkish soldiers on the Western coast and in the southeast at the same time.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the attack was an example of the PKK’s efforts to spread throughout the country. “Unfortunately, this is another example of terrorism’s spread,” Erdoğan said Aug. 9, answering reporters’ questions on the issue.

One Turkish soldier was killed and 11 were injured when a landmine exploded as a military bus was passing on a road in the Aegean city of İzmir’s Foça district Aug. 9.

The bus was carrying soldiers to a marine base at the Foça Naval Base when an explosive device, allegedly planted by suspected members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was remotely detonated at around 8 a.m. The explosion occurred 1.5 kilometers away from the base on a road recently opened to civilian traffic. The road is flanked by summer houses on one side and trees on the other. Several civilian vehicles were damaged in the blast. Military and police first responders had already arrived at the scene when a second explosion hit a fire truck rushing to the blast zone, approximately eight minutes after the initial attack. No one was injured in the second blast, but the fire truck was hit by shrapnel. Soldiers opened fire on woodlands after the second blast, leading witnesses to assume there was fighting at the scene. The barrage stopped after no one returned fire.

One specialist sergeant wounded in the blast later died at Foça State Hospital. Six critically injured soldiers were flown to Ege University Hospital in İzmir. Doctors at the hospital made a call to the citizens of İzmir to donate blood for the wounded soldiers on the hospital’s official Twitter account. The required amount of blood was quickly found, as nearly 4,000 people rushed to the hospital.

Commandos from nearby military units were deployed to Foça with helicopters to initiate an operation to find the assailants.

The Foça Naval Base houses the Turkish Amphibious Brigade, and is the only place in the country where marines are trained. A marine battalion from the brigade was deployed in the southeastern province of Şırnak between 1993 and 2001 to participate in operations against the PKK.

Meanwhile, a special sergeant was killed by a landmine blast during the ongoing operation against PKK militants in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şırnak’s Beytüşşebap district. A bomb also exploded while a military vehicle was passing by in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş’s Pazarcık district, leading no casualty.

Reactions from parties

Commenting on the issue, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Haluk Koç said the PKK is trying to create a region under its own control, like the areas of northern Syria now under the control of Kurdish rebel groups. “That’s why we have to be very careful. We called for an extraordinary meeting of Parliament to discuss this issue. But misreading this call and linking us with the terrorist organization is enough to make a cat laugh,” Koç said. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said that Turkey faces “the most paramount risk and greatest hazards in its recent history.” “The PKK is trying to surround us, and it is harassing the Turkish soil both internally and externally at the utmost level,” Bahçeli said in a written statement yesterday. Bahçeli once again said that his party would not attend the extraordinary session the CHP has called to discuss the latest attacks. The CHP’s proposal would “delay the struggle against terrorism,” Bahçeli said.

Top commander meets

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Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel paid a visit to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu yesterday, a day after allegations that the two are at loggerheads surfaced. Özel’s visit returns a visit from Kılıçdaroğlu, who paid a courtesy visit to the top commander last November.

The two met a day after a news report alleged that Kılıçdaroğlu was at odds with Özel, whom he harshly criticized recently due to Özel’s crying at the funeral of a soldier who was killed during a clash with the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). The meeting at the CHP headquarters lasted for 1.5 hours. Kılıçdaroğlu accompanied Özel out the door after the meeting. Neither side made a statement about the meeting afterward.