Three soldiers killed in gunfire in southeastern Turkey

Three soldiers killed in gunfire in southeastern Turkey

Three soldiers killed in gunfire in southeastern Turkey

Emergency workers carry one of the wounded soldiers to the hospital. The three soldiers later died. AA photo

Three Turkish soldiers have been shot dead in broad daylight in the Yüksekova district of the southeastern province of Hakkari, Doğan News Agency has reported. 

The three soldiers, who were not uniformed, were shot at around 4 p.m. on Oct. 25 on the district's central Cengiz Topel Street before succumbing to their injuries in hospital, the agency said.

The General Staff said in a written statement that the victims were one gendarmerie specialist sergeant and two gendarmerie privates. 

Anadolu Agency said the soldiers were in town to buy electrical equipment for the military post where they were serving.  

The General Staff also stated that the attack is thought to have been carried out by three “terrorists,” while Interior Minister Efkan Ala said it was staged by “two masked individuals.”

Five suspects detained

Special teams organized simultaneous raids at several addresses early on Oct. 26, detaining five suspects, Anadolu Agency reported.

The five suspects were brought to the district police directorate, where they were interrogated by anti-terror units.

Battles between the Turkish military and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants eased from May last year, when a number of PKK militants withdrew from Turkish soil as part of ongoing talks to resolve the decades-old Kurdish problem.

The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is focused on the Kurdish problem, released a statement expressing its sadness at the soldiers' deaths, also calling on all parties to accelerate efforts on the peace process.

Unrest that peaked on Oct. 6 and 7 led to the death of dozens of people in clashes between rival groups, following protests over the government’s perceived inaction toward Syrian Kurds besieged by jihadists in the Syrian border town of Kobane.

A key Cabinet member, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan, suggested on Oct. 23 that the jailed leader of the PKK himself fueled the fire in the protests.

Entry to Tunceli closed

Tensions were also high Oct. 25 in the eastern province of Tunceli (Dersim) after the Tunceli Governor's Office prohibited all entry to the province due to the planned opening of a cemetery for fallen PKK militants in the northern Pülümür district.

Tunceli Co-Mayor Mehmet Ali Bul described the situation in the province as "a return to the 1990s."

"All roads have been closed by soldiers and police ... This doesn't contribute to the peace process at all. People's freedom of movement has been taken away from them unlawfully. This kind of prohibition wasn't even imposed during martial law [in the 1990s]."

Ergin Doğru, the provincial head of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), the sister party of the HDP, also slammed the denial of access to the area.

"We are declaring to the soldiers and the police: Tomorrow at 11 a.m., we will head to the cemetery with the people and conduct the opening," he said, according to daily Radikal. "We have the constitutional and legal right to travel and honor the dead. Our rights have been seized and usurped by the Turkish Republic's fascist mindset."

Three members of the PKK were also killed by security forces on Oct. 23 in the eastern Turkish province of Kars. Clashes erupted when four militants reportedly attacked a hydroelectric power station in the Kağızman district.

Three of them were killed in the clash while one managed to escape. An operation was launched to capture the escaped militant.