Turkey mourns troops killed in helicopter crash
HAKKARİ / VAN
Soldiers carry the coffin of a fallen soldier during an official ceremony in Van. DHA photoTurkey is paying its final respects to five soldiers killed when a military helicopter crashed July 22 in southeastern Turkey while fighting Kurdish militants.
An official ceremony was held yesterday in the eastern province of Van for the five who were killed in the crash in the nearby province of Hakkari on July 22, after which their remains were returned to their hometowns. Seven soldiers were injured in the crash.
The Sikorsky-70 helicopter belonging to the Gendarmerie General Command crashed on Deryan Hill, which is 12 kilometers away from Hakkari’s Dağlıca vicinity in Yüksekova district, due to a technical failure, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement released the same day.
Sgt. Ahmet Çağlar and specialist sergeants Regaip Şahin, Muhammed Şahin and Muharrem Saygün were killed at the scene, while Lt. Nuri Akman died later in hospital.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (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, but the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said the helicopter crashed due to a loss of power as it was landing and that an investigation had begun. After the accident, the dead and wounded were taken to Yüksekova before being transported to hospitals in Van. Ceremonies were also held for Pvt. Ali Bozkurt, who died after a hand grenade exploded in the Yeşiltaş Police Station in Yüksekova, as well as Pvt. Ümit Akbaş, who died from injuries sustained in a PKK attack in the Elaçmaz village of Van’s Gürpınar district.
Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin and Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker attended the ceremony in Van and extended their condolences.
The attendants stood in silence and read the biographies of the fallen soldiers at the beginning of the ceremony. Van Gendarmerie Command of Public Security Helicopter Fleet Commander Lt. Col. Ziya Bektaş also extended condolences to the soldiers that had fallen in the anti-PKK fight. After Mufti Nimetullah Arvas prayed for the soldiers, the men’s bodies, which were wrapped in the Turkish flag, were sent to their hometowns with a cargo aircraft belonging to the Turkish Air Forces.
Families mourn for their sons
Along with the relatives of the dead troops, Van Gov. Münir Karaloğlu, Commander of the Land Forces Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu, Gendarmerie General Commander Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, 2nd Army Commander Gen. Servet Yörük, Gendarmerie Command of Public Security Commander Gen. Yıldırım Güvenç, deputies, soldiers and civilians also attended the ceremony.
Friends and relatives of Akman hung Turkish flags at the entrance of Kızılcakoru village in the Black Sea province of Samsun’s Vezirköprü district after learning news of the death of Akman, who was from the area.
According to Anatolia news agency reports, Akman’s uncle Hasan Yılmaz said his nephew had graduated from the Turkish teaching department at Erzurum’s Atatürk University but became a soldier since he loved military service. Çağlar’s family, meanwhile, mourned their loved one’s death at their home in Ankara. Çağlar was reportedly killed in the first week of his duty.
At the same time, the family of Saygün grieved for his death in the northern province of Amasya’s Suluova district. Saygün had been married for five years and was the father of two small children.