PKK kills five soldiers in Sur amid ongoing operations

PKK kills five soldiers in Sur amid ongoing operations

PKK kills five soldiers in Sur amid ongoing operations

AA photo

Five Turkish soldiers were killed on Feb. 1 during operations conducted against suspected militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern district of Sur, amid ongoing military operations targeting the group in southeastern Turkey.

The Turkish General Staff said Feb. 1 that three soldiers and two police officers were heavily wounded during clashes with militants in Sur, a district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, and that three of the wounded soldiers succumbed to their injuries in hospital.

Two more soldiers and a police officer were also hospitalized due to injuries sustained during the operation. 

Meanwhile, three Turkish security officers, including a soldier and two police officers, were killed on Jan. 31 in clashes with the PKK in the violence-hit Cizre district of the southeastern province of Şırnak. 

A soldier and a police officer were heavily wounded as clashes erupted between security forces and militants on Reyhan Street in Cizre’s Cudi neighborhood on Jan. 31, as part of an anti-terror operation named after deceased soldier Burak Demirci. 

The wounded officials, identified as Sgt. 1st Class Ahmet Semerci and special operations police officer Ömer Güney, were brought to the Cizre State Hospital where they succumbed to their wounds. 

A second police officer was severely wounded later on Jan. 31, as the operation and clashes continued throughout the day. 

The second police officer, identified as Taner Cinpolat, also succumbed to the wounds he sustained during the clashes. 

The Turkish Army released a statement on its website announcing the casualties, while adding that it had captured the dead bodies of three PKK militants alongside their weapons as part of the operation.

Cizre and Sur have been experiencing round-the-clock or partial curfews since mid-December 2015 that have caused severe damage to homes, stores and several other buildings while bringing day-to-day life to a standstill.

The Turkish government, meanwhile, has also revealed plans to rebuild homes and buildings damaged during clashes in the country’s southeast.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told daily Hürriyet during an official visit to Saudi Arabia that Diyarbakır’s historical Sur district would be rebuilt to erase the scars of weeks-long clashes between security forces and the PKK, citing Spain’s reconstruction of historic Toledo as an example. 

“We will reconstruct Diyarbakır’s Sur so beautifully that it will become a tourist attraction with its architectural texture,” Davutoğlu said, referring to the autonomous capital of Castille-La Mancha in central Spain.

According to the prime minister, the devastated Sur district will be rebuilt “just like Toledo,” a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was renovated after it endured a siege during the Spanish Civil War, forcing residents to construct barricades to fight off the invaders of fascist leader Francisco Franco.

“The houses of Diyarbakır that are recognized as historical heritage sites, its mosques, churches and inns will be restored without any harm to their architectural texture,” Davutoğlu added. 

He also said Turkey’s southeastern cities were examples of “unplanned urbanization” as they rapidly developed particularly during the 1990s after the state destroyed villages in a bid to deprive the PKK of support in rural areas.

“Even if such events [clashes] had not taken place, these cities would have to be rebuilt under urban transformation projects,” Davutoğlu added. 

The Sur district, well known for a number of historical sites including the Great Mosque of Diyarbakır, the Kurşunlu Mosque and the Sheikh Matar Mosque, has been hit with violence following a round-the-clock curfew declared on Dec. 2, 2015, to combat PKK militants. The curfew was expanded on Jan. 27 to include five additional neighborhoods.