Residents return to ruined homes after siege in Silvan
İdris Emen – DİYARBAKIR
DHA PhotoResidents who fled their homes because of a long curfew in the southeastern district of Silvan have returned to homes and other buildings that were severely damaged during the curfew, news website Radikal has reported.
A large number of homes, office buildings and stores were ruined in clashes between security forces and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants during the 12-day curfew, which was imposed to facilitate military operations in three neighborhoods of Silvan, a district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. The curfew was issued on Nov. 3 and lifted on Nov. 14, during which time the military and police forces held anti-terror operations in the three neighborhoods of Konak, Mescit and Tekel.
“We fled our home when the curfew came into effect. When we came back, however, we saw our home was damaged,” said Zehra Gülmez, one of the Konak residents who fled her home after the announcement of the curfew. Gülmez also claimed her home was looted and her valuable possessions were stolen.
“My mother and father were stuck in their home for 11 days. My dad was not able to flee his home because he’s bedridden,” said Necdet Şenkaya, a Mescit resident, adding that he had to take his parents out carrying them on his back.
“We fled our home to survive,” said Abdullah Ekinci, another resident who was away for 12 days during the curfew.
“We saw our animals perished when we came back home. I’m now trying to find fodder for those that somehow survived,” Ekinci said.
While many fled the town, other residents were stuck in their homes due to the curfew and clashes between security forces and PKK militants.
Daily Hürriyet reported militants in Silvan’s Mescit neighborhood used schools, homes and even mosques as shelters and warehouses.
Education halted during curfew
Education services in Silvan were also halted due the ongoing military operation.
The Silvan curfew was lifted at 2 p.m. on Nov. 14, and the tanks placed around the city by the military withdrew.
The Diyarbakır Governor’s Office declared a curfew in Tekel, Mescit and Konak on Nov. 3 before an operation was launched to remove barricades erected by PKK militants, re-fill ditches dug by them and capture PKK militants. The office said in a written statement on Nov. 14 that one gendarmerie lieutenant and two police officers had been killed in clashes, while one injured soldier and one police officer were reported to be receiving treatment.
Two citizens died in the clashes while two injured people were reported to be in hospital, the governor’s office said. The governor’s office also said 10 PKK militants were believed to have been killed during the operations.
Guns, explosives and armaments were seized during operations, the governor’s office added.
The latest curfew is the sixth one imposed on Silvan in the last four months. In addition, citizens in Turkey’s troubled southeastern towns often lack electricity and water, while communications, including cellular phones, the Internet and land lines, are often down. Delegations formed by politicians and journalists were not permitted into the town.