PKK kills two local ruling AKP officials in Van, Diyarbakır
VAN/DİYARBAKIRTwo local officials from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were killed by outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the eastern province of Van and the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on July 1 in two separate armed assaults in one day.
Aydın Ahi, who served as the AKP’s deputy chairman in the Özalp district of Van, was shot 20 meters from his house in the Boğazkesen neighborhood after he was kidnapped by two PKK militants at around 10 p.m., the party’s provincial chairman Zahir Soğanda said.
Orhan Yıldırımçakar, the party’s district chairman, said other PKK militants fired guns while two others kidnapped Ahi.
The party’s previous deputy chairman in the same district, Aydın Muşta, was also killed by the PKK on Oct. 9, 2016 in an armed assault in front of his house.
The Van Governor’s Office said in a written statement that the authorities have launched operations to capture the militants responsible for the assault.
Ahi’s death came hours after the AKP’s deputy chairman in the Lice district of Diyarbakır, Orhan Mercan, was shot in front of his house in the Mulla neighbourhood. He was later pronounced dead at Lice State Hospital.
Mercan was laid to rest in a funeral ceremony held in the district on July 1.
Police also detained some 19 suspects as part of the investigation into Mercan’s killing, Doğan News Agency reported.
The killing of the party officials drew immediate condemnation from government figures.
“Such treacherous attacks will never disrupt our fight for freedom against terror organizations and their supporters in the region,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş tweeted.
EU Minister Ömer Çelik said the attacks on the party officials were aimed at Turkey as a whole.
“These attacks were staged against the entire political institution, legitimacy, democracy, and our nation. The political institution is one of the most important pillars that our nation is based on. An attack on the political institution is an attack against the national entity,” Çelik said in a tweet.
Diyarbakır and Van, which are around 300 kilometers apart, have been hit by numerous PKK attacks over the past few months in which more than 1,200 victims, including security personnel and civilians, have been killed.
22 PKK militants killed in last two days
Meanwhile, a total of 22 PKK militants were killed on July 1 and 2 in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces as well as in northern Iraq, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
During operations in southeastern Turkey on July 2, security forces reportedly killed six militants in the Beytüşşebap and İdil districts of Şırnak province.
During a Turkish Armed Force air operation, five other militants were killed in the Dargeçit district in Mardin province.
Security forces also captured PKK militants in Mardin.
Some 11 PKK militants were killed in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces and northern Iraq on July 1, according to local governors.
Five militants were “neutralized” in the Karlıova district of Bingöl province during an air-backed operation against the group, the Bingöl Governor’s Office said.
Authorities use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply the militants in question had been killed, wounded or captured.
During an ongoing anti-PKK operation in Hakkari province, four militants were “neutralized” in an airstrike on the Ora area in northern Iraq and operations in the region continue, according to a source who spoke on conditions of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The Hakkari Governor’s Office said one other PKK militant was “neutralized” in the Güvendağı area of Çukurca district in a separate operation while another was killed in Diyarbakir province.
In the southern province of Hatay, two Syria-born terrorists who were reportedly trying to cross the PKK and Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD-held area of Afrin in northwestern Syria were apprehended, the governor’s office said.