Turkish army, Kurdish militants clash in southeast
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.