Turk­ish army, Kur­dish mil­i­tants clash in southeast

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Four Turk­ish troops were wounded Satur­day in clashes with the outlawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers Party (PKK), in a blow to the peace process seek­ing to end decades of sep­a­ratist vi­o­lence.

The army sent armed he­li­copters, re­con­nais­sance jets and a commando unit to the Agri re­gion in south­east­ern Turkey where clashes were con­tin­u­ing, the Turk­ish mil­i­tary said in a state­ment on its web­site.

Troops had been dis­patched to the dis­trict of Di­ay­din af­ter re­ceiv­ing in­tel­li­gence of a planned “fes­ti­val” to pro­mote the “sep­a­ratist ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tion,” the army said, us­ing the of­fi­cial short­hand for the PKK.

PKK mil­i­tants opened fire on the Turk­ish mil­i­tary and the army re­sponded, it said.

“But in the ini­tial fire four of our sol­diers were wounded in dif­fer­ent places.

“Re­con­nais­sance air­craft, armed he­li­copters and a commando unit have been dis­patched to the area.

“The clashes are con­tin­u­ing,” the army added.

The un­rest marks a rare spike in vi­o­lence as the gov­ern­ment seeks to make peace with the PKK af­ter a decades-long con­flict that has cost tens of thou­sands of lives.

Se­la­hat­tin Demir­tas, the leader of the pro-Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (HDP) that acts as an in­ter­me­di­ary be­tween the gov­ern­ment and PKK, called the clashes “a sad and wor­ry­ing devel­op­ment.”

“A de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tion is needed to find out ex­actly what hap­pened,” he said in tele­vised com­ments.

The gov­ern­ment’s point­man on the peace process, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Yal­cin Ak­do­gan, said he strongly con­demned the “ter­ror­ist at­tacks.”

“The will of the peo­ple can­not be put at stake for a mix of po­lit­i­cal pres­sure and vi­o­lence. Open­ing fire will back­fire on it­self,” he wrote on Twit­ter.

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