Top general denies downed helicopter attacked by PKK

Top general denies downed helicopter attacked by PKK

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Top general denies downed helicopter attacked by PKK

ime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (2R), main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (L) and Chief of Staff Gen Necdet Özel (2L) join a funeral ceremony in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel yesterday ruled out speculation over a military helicopter crash on July 22 which led to the deaths of five soldiers, noting that contrary news reports suggesting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had played a role in the crash served as “propaganda” for the terrorist organization.

“Such news reports are absolutely a lie and are wrong. Such news is fabricated by those who want to publicize the PKK,” Özel told reporters in response to Turkish media reports claiming the helicopter had crashed due to the impact of an explosion stemming from a remote-control landmine. The news reports said PKK members had activated the landmine just when the helicopter was landing. The outlawed PKK claimed the helicopter was shot down by its militants in a statement carried by the Fırat news agency, which is known for its close links to the PKK.

PM attends funeral

Özel’s remarks came at a funeral ceremony held for non-commissioned officer Ahmet Çağlar, one of the five victims of the crash. Özel recalled an earlier statement by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) which said the helicopter crashed due to power dissipation while it was landing.

The Gendarmerie General Command’s Sikorsky-70 helicopter crashed on Deryan Hill, which is 12 kilometers away from Hakkari’s Dağlıca vicinity in the Yüksekova district, due to a technical failure, TSK said in a statement released the day of the crash. As well as Özel and all land forces commanders, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and several members of the Cabinet attended the funeral ceremony.

President Gül attends gendarme’s funeral in Istanbul

Late gendarmerie Private Ümit Akbaş, who died from injuries on July 22 five days after a PKK attack in southeastern Van, was laid to rest in Istanbul yesterday with a military ceremony. Top officials, including Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, attended the ceremony, which began at a mosque in the Ataköy district. Akbaş’s coffin, covered with a Turkish flag, was placed in a military gun carriage and a military band accompanied the march to his burial site.

Istanbul Chief of Police Hüseyin Çapkın, Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, Mayor Kadir Topbaş, and Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Mehmet Sevigen were among the officials in attendance at the ceremony.

Akbaş, 23, had lived in the Karagümrük neighborhood of Fatih, Istanbul, before he was drafted into army service.

Some people at the funeral wore Turkish flag t-shirts and applauded the late private. A group of Karagümrük Football Team supporters chanted slogans such as “martyrs are immortal, our land is indivisible.”

The late soldier’s father, Murat Akbaş, told reporters that he had seen his son in the hospital but they were not able to talk.

Akbaş’s uncle, Savaş Akbaş, was also killed in a clash in the southeastern province of Şırnak in 2005 while performing army service, relatives told the Hürriyet Daily News.

High security precautions taken by Istanbul Police were remarkable. Akbaş’s body was sent to be buried to the Edirnekapı Cemetery after the ceremony.