5 die in clashes be­tween Tur­key author­i­ties, PKK

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY SUZAN FRASER

Kur­dish rebels raided a Turk­ish po­lice sta­tion and fired on rail­way work­ers in two sep­a­rate at­tacks that left five dead, of­fi­cials said Fri­day, amid re­newed con­flict be­tween the se­cu­rity forces and in­sur­gents that has wrecked a frag­ile peace process.

Vi­o­lence has sharply in­creased in Tur­key in the past week, with the gov­ern­ment launch­ing aerial strikes against Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party, or PKK, bases in north­ern Iraq, and the rebels es­ca­lat­ing at­tacks against Tur­key’s se­cu­rity forces. Some 20 peo­ple, most of them sol­diers, have died in the re­newed vi­o­lence.

PKK mil­i­tants raided the po­lice sta­tion in the town of Pozanti, in south­ern Adana province, late on Thurs­day, killing two po­lice­men and touch­ing off a gun­fight that also killed two rebels, said Gov. Mustafa Buyuk. He said the rebels were armed with au­to­matic ri­fles and hand grenades.

In the eastern province of Kars, the rebels det­o­nated a bomb they placed on rail tracks and later fired on rail work­ers who were sent to re­pair the line, the re­gion’s deputy gover­nor, Adem Unal, told the state-run Anadolu Agency. One of the work­ers was killed.

Tur­key last week con­ducted air as­saults on Is­lamic State (IS) group tar­gets and also opened its air bases for sor­ties by the U.S.-led coali­tion fight­ing the group. The de­ci­sion came af­ter a sui­cide bomb­ing blamed on IS killed 32 peo­ple and mil­i­tants fired on Turk­ish troops, killing a soldier.

But Tur­key shifted fo­cus to the PKK fol­low­ing an at­tack claimed by the rebels that killed two po­lice­men. That is com­pli­cat­ing the U.S. war on IS mil­i­tants, which has re­lied heav­ily on Syr­ian Kur­dish fight­ers af­fil­i­ated with Tur­key’s Kur­dish rebels.

Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu has said Tur­key’s on­slaught against the PKK will con­tinue un­til its fight­ers lay down arms, de­spite calls from Tur­key’s main pro-Kur­dish po­lit­i­cal party for the re­sump­tion of peace ef­forts. On Thurs­day, Davu­to­glu vowed re­newed strikes against IS mil­i­tants if the group at­tacks Turk­ish tar­gets again.

“A sin­gle shot fired at our sol­diers will re­sult in the de­struc­tion of all those who fired the shot, un­til no one dares again to con­duct such a thing at our bor­der,” Davu­to­glu said. “These oper­a­tions will con­tinue un­til all arms are laid down and armed (fight­ers) leave the coun­try, and un­til stops be­ing a threat.”

The Kur­dish party’s co-chair­man re­newed his plea for peace on Fri­day, as Tur­key be­gan hold­ing fu­ner­als for the two of­fi­cers killed in the po­lice sta­tion at­tack and three sol­diers who were slain in south­east Tur­key on Thurs­day.

“The di­a­logue — slow as it was — must re­sume,” Se­la­hat­tin Demir­tas said in tele­vised com­ments. “Fin­gers must be re­moved from the trig­ger.”

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