An attack by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that claimed 13 lives on Saturday was the last throes of terrorism, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan said in a statement on Sunday.
The attack is believed to be the first one exclusively targeting civilians in recent years. PKK terrorists set up an ambush in the BeytÃ¼ÅŸÅŸebap district of ÅžÄ±rnak on Saturday. The assault claimed the lives of seven village guards, five construction workers and one young child, while wounding two others.
“Our fight against terrorism will continue with the same determination,” Prime Minister ErdoÄŸan, whose Justice and Development Party (AK Party) topped the polls in July’s election in the southeastern provinces, said in his statement. Many experts here believe the AK Party victory in the region clearly indicates that sympathy toward the PKK and ethnic separatism has sharply fallen among the people of the area, who in past elections distinctly showed they favored economic stability and peace. Intelligence reports also leave no doubt that the PKK was unsettled due to diminishing support as shown in the election results.
President Abdullah GÃ¼l, the first Turkish president to have paid his first domestic visit to the region, also released a message on Sunday strongly condemning the attack. “Nobody or no power can possibly damage the unity of our country and its indivisible integrity,” the message from the presidential press center read. GÃ¼l was greeted with displays of support from locals in the southeastern cities during his visit in the region.
“I condemn this inhumane attack, which exposes the real face of terrorism one more time with its utter remorselessness,” the president’s message continued and offered condolences to the families of the victims killed in the attack. Saturday’s attack came a day after Turkey and Iraq signed an agreement to crack down on PKK terrorists based in northern Iraq.
“Separatists and terrorists from the PKK used machine gun fire on a minibus carrying 13 people, killing 12 people including seven village guard militia,” local governor Selahattin AparÄ± said on Sunday. The 13th body, belonging to a child was located close to the scene of the crime, a few hours after the governor’s statement.
Village guards are locals armed by the government to protect villages in the Southeast from terrorist attacks. The two injured were hospitalized but their lives were not in danger, officials said, as security forces launched a manhunt for the attackers.
The attack is the worst in years and is a throwback to incidents of a similar scale staged at the start of the terrorism more than two decades ago.
The names of the citizens killed in the terrorist attack were announced as Kamil AkdoÄŸan, Rahmi Acer, Kadri Acer, Orhan Acer, KazÄ±m Acer, Yusuf Acer, Zeki Acer, ReÅŸit Acer, Harun Acer, Sefer Acer, Bengin Acer and Cuma Ermahan. The injured, Memduh Acer and Erdal Acer, are reportedly being treated at the areaâ€™s military hospital.
Pro-Kurdish politicians condemn PKK attack
The deputy chairmen of the pro-Kurdish DTP, Nurettin DemirtaÅŸ and Selma Irmak, released a written statement condemning the BeytÃ¼ÅŸÅŸebap massacre. The two deputy chairmen offered their condolences to the grieving families and expressed hope that the injured would recover quickly. â€œWe have been continuously expressing our concern for the increasing number of operations in the region and the atmosphere of conflict. However, unfortunately the government has made no efforts to prevent armed clashes and open up political channels. In the massacring of our 12 [now 13] citizens, the insensitivity of the government and the fact that no measures were taken also have a role. It is the governmentâ€™s duty to find the perpetrators of this act and reveal the truth in this incident. The safety of our citizens cannot be ensured in this environment of conflict. We call on the government to urgently adopt policies that would put an end to this tense process increasing grievances.â€ The DTP is often accused of having ties with the PKK.
The PKK, designated a terrorist organization by the majority of the international community including Washington, has been active in terrorist activities in Turkey since 1984 with the aim of establishing an autonomous Kurdish administration in the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has recently accelerated its operations against the terrorist organization to crack down on the PKK and has threatened to stage a military incursion into northern Iraq, where the organization terrorists find a safe haven, to eradicate terrorist bases there if the US or Iraqi forces fail to take action against the group.