Turkish PM calls for ‘courage against terror’
AA photoPrime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu visited the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on April 1, just a day after seven police officers were killed and at least 27 people were wounded in a bomb attack blamed on militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Davutoğlu declared that he was “not scared” and vowed “no steps back” in the fight against terror.
He began his visit, which took place under heavy security, by attending a funeral ceremony for the police officers killed.
In a symbolic move, he then took part in Friday prayers outside the Great Mosque in Diyarbakır’s central district of Sur, in five neighborhoods where curfews remain in place after the conclusion of security operations against urban-based PKK militants. A “security corridor” made up of police barricades was set up on a street near the mosque, while all attendees were screened carefully by security. Army snipers were in position on the roof of the mosque, as well as on buildings nearby.
“They thought we would be scared. But we are not scared, we will not waver and we will go on right to the end,” Davutoğlu said.
“Perhaps they thought ‘Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will not come to Diyarbakır out of fear of these attacks’. But dear people of Diyarbakır, are you scared?” he added.
The visit was already planned before the deadly attack took place on March 31.
The southeast has been gripped by violence since July, with the security forces battling the PKK and its youth wing, known as the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), in densely populated urban centers.
The fighting has marked the deadliest period in at least two decades of the conflict.
Parts of Sur have been under curfew since the military launched a major operation against the PKK in the area on Dec. 2, with the clashes causing widespread destruction to the historic district. The premier’s visit was his first to Diyarbakır since the operation began. He last visited on the eve of November elections.
“We were here, we are here and we will be here. God willing, I pray that if He takes my life, he will take it here in Diyarbakır. They cannot make us retreat. They cannot make us take even one step backwards,” Davutoğlu said.