Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

AN AR­ME­NIAN Protes­tant church in Di­yarbakır’s his­toric Sur dis­trict is the first build­ing whose restora­tion has been com­pleted two years af­ter it suf­fered from PKK ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

Sur was the scene of clashes be­tween se­cu­rity forces and the ter­ror­ist group whose cam­paign of vi­o­lence plagued the south­east­ern Turkey for decades two years ago. Au­thor­i­ties man­aged to quell the group’s pres­ence, but not be­fore the mil­i­tants in­flicted se­ri­ous dam­age to his­toric struc­tures in the area, from Ot­toman-era mosques to Ar­me­nian churches.

The church will reopen next year af­ter ad­di­tional ren­o­va­tions are com­pleted while work is un­der­way for other churches and his­tor­i­cal struc­tures in the area.

In an in­ter­view with Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thurs­day, En­vi­ron­ment and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Mehmet Özhaseki said that thou­sands of houses dam­aged in the vi­o­lence in the sum­mer of 2015 will also be re­built over the next six months. Özhaseki said 26,000 houses were re­built from scratch due to heavy dam­age.

The Gen­eral Di­rec­torate for Foun­da­tions over­sees the restora­tion of 11 his­toric sites in Di­yarbakır. Among them is Fatih Paşa Mosque, also known as Kurşunlu (leaded) be­cause of its lead-cov­ered dome, whose restora­tion is sched­uled to be com­pleted by 2018. It is the first Ot­toman build­ing in Sur, and was built in the 16th cen­tury.

The strik­ing Ar­me­nian Catholic church is one of most dam­aged build­ings in the dis­trict, as it lost its bell tower, part of the façade and clergy house dur­ing PKK at­tacks car­ried out with hand­made ex­plo­sives last year. The church is the only one in the re­gion that re­flects 19th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture with ce­ram­ics and plas­ter, which will hope­fully re­turn to its for­mer state in 2018. Di­rec­torate of­fi­cials have said that the two churches were re­stored be­fore in 2011, but need re­newed restora­tion af­ter the at­tacks.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Hakan Çavu oğlu and lo­cal of­fi­cials pose in front of the re­stored church dur­ing a re­cent visit.

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