Turkey kills 16 PKK militants in counterterrorism operations

Turkey kills 16 PKK militants in counterterrorism operations

Turkey kills 16 PKK militants in counterterrorism operations

DHA Photo

Turkey killed 16 militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the southeastern town of İdil on March 7 in an operation conducted in close contact with the militant group amid a fresh offensive in another town nearby that killed a Turkish soldier.

Doğan News Agency reported that 16 PKK militants were killed in the Turgut Özal neighborhood of İdil, a district in the southeastern province of Şırnak, early March 7 during fierce clashes that erupted after Turkish security forces engaged in a close-fought battle with a group of PKK militants. 

The large-scale operation in İdil was reported to be ongoing and the number of militants killed in the operation was expected to rise. İdil has been under a blanket curfew since Feb. 16 for military operations targeting PKK militants. The Turkish General Staff said in a written statement on March 7 that four PKK militants were killed in Sur on March 6 and six others were killed in İdil on the same day.

The move came amid a fresh offensive by the militant group in Sur, a district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, early on March 7 that killed Specialized Sgt. İbrahim Tetik.

Tetik succumbed to injuries at 5:15 a.m. on March 7 after he was wounded in an armed attack by PKK militants, the Turkish General Staff said in a written statement.

“My son has always wanted to be martyred, and he did that, actually. He deserved to be martyred... Will the [Turkish] homeland be unprotected? Some persons go and get martyred,” the state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Tetik’s father as saying as he spoke in tears outside their home in Tetik’s hometown Kütahya, a Central Anatolian province.

İdil and Sur have seen months-long curfews that subjected local residents to power blackouts, food and water shortages and destroyed neighborhoods. Fierce clashes between PKK militants and security forces have also halted education and health services in the towns placed under curfew. Turkish authorities have taken several measures purportedly to allow civilians to leave the towns that have been subjected to a curfew.

Six people were arrested on March 7, accused of “being a member of an armed terrorist group,” after being evacuated from their neighborhoods in the Sur district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

The suspects were among 43 people evacuated by the security forces after their calls to the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office and security forces.  

The 43 people, including 15 children and eight women, were evacuated from various neighborhoods in Sur last week, amid ongoing clashes between security forces and the PKK.

Turkey has recently stepped up efforts to fight militancy in its east and southeast as a long-stalled peace talks between the government and the PKK collapsed in July 2015, with the militant group having scaled up attacks against Turkish security forces.

Doğan News Agency reported that a group of PKK militants opened fire at a military post late March 6 in the southeastern town of Dağlıca, a district in the Hakkari province, with no casualties reported.

Turkish soldiers immediately responded with fire against the offensive and a large-scale operation was launched in and around the town.

In the southeastern province of Kilis on March 6, the police seized at least nine TNT molds in a suicide bombing vest in a truck that arrived at the Öncüpınar border crossing with Syria.

The incident occurred at the border crossing late March 6 as custom officers stopped the truck for a search after it off-loaded materials in its trailer to vehicles with Syrian license plates. 

Finding connected cables in a plastic bag during the search inside the truck, custom officers called the police. Bomb deactivation experts were dispatched to the scene after the police took security measures and taped off the area, blocking civilian access.   

In a search conducted by the experts, an assault vest with at least nine TNT molds prepared as a bomb set-up was defused and taken to a police station. The driver of the truck and a Syrian national present in the truck were detained and taken to an anti-terror office as the police stepped up security measures in the area.