Clashes between security forces, Kurdish militants resume in Turkey



Increased attacks have been reported against Turkish police and military targets by the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), with reports pilling up as Turkey heightens security measures.

The PKK, listed as terror organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, staged an armed attack against a military hospital in the eastern province of Bitlis Sunday, followed by detonating a mine on the Bitlis-Diyarbakir highway during the transit of two military vehicles.

No casualties were reported in both incidents. The attacks came on the heels of a suicide bombing over the weekend by the PKK in Turkey's eastern province of Agri, killing two soldiers and wounding 24 others.

Another soldier was killed in Turkey's southeastern province of Mardin when the PKK attacked a group of soldiers patrolling the natural gas pipeline.

The PKK has intensified its violent attacks against Turkish security services especially after Turkish air and land forces started pounding PKK targets in Northern Iraq where commanders of the militant groups are stationed.

At least 16 security force members were killed by the PKK in a separate incident on July 20 when a suicide attack by a suspected Islamic State (IS) militant killed 32 pro-Kurdish activists in the Suruc town of Sanliurfa province in southeastern Turkey.

PKK attacks also claimed the lives of four civilians and wounded 43 people.

Renewed conflict led to the suspension of the peace process between the Turkish state and the imprisoned PKK leader, launched in 2012.


Turkey's opposition parties, with the exception of nationalists, accuse Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of undermining the peace process for political benefit in a snap election likely to be held in November.

"The main character ending the peace process is Erdogan. He is openly opposed to it," main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said in a recent TV interview in Haberturk.

"Currently if the way towards elections is paved with blood, the price will be extremely high," he added.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) also accused Erdogan of abusing the peace process for his own political ambition of becoming an executive president.

HDP legislator Ahmet Tan said Erdogan attempted to use the process as a tool to win public support during the elections held over the last two years.

He said Erdogan turned against the peace process when the HDP thwarted the president's ambitions of becoming an executive president through gaining the support of a large majority of Kurdish voters.

Erdogan's former Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost majority in Parliament, leading to its failure to form a single-party government for the first time since 2002.

A group of Turkish intellectuals including politicians, artists and academics, issued a statement Sunday saying that a country's stability cannot be sacrificed for political or personal interests of a person or a ruling party.

Selahattin Demirtas, HDP co-chairperson, said Monday that both the PKK and the government should cease fire and resume the peace process.

The HDP leader also accused the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) of forming a war coalition.

The MHP supports the government crackdown on the PKK, hailing the end of the process.


However, Ahmert Davutoglu, Turkey's acting prime minister and chairman of the AKP, blamed the clashes on the PKK, declaring that the organization announced an end to armed struggle and withdrawal of armed units from Turkey in March 2013.

"Now, we are in August 2015. Have the armed units withdrawn from Turkey? Have their weapons been laid down?" he asked. "Currently they are setting new conditions for the cease fire." the prime minister remarked.

Turkish analysts believe Erdogan ultimately hopes to benefit politically from renewed clashes.

"The abrupt end of the so-called 'settlement process,' the launch of a substantial attack on PKK bases in Iraq, and demonization of the HDP leaves no doubt about Erdogan's strategy," said political analyst Yavuz Baydar.

Mumtazer Turkone noted that the PKK were mistaken in launching attacks against Turkey.

"The PKK's plan was misguided. In order to strengthen its hold over Syria, it threatened Turkey with a resumption of attacks, thereby handing Erdogan a much-needed opportunity," he explained.

The PKK's Syrian off-shoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has gained grounds in northern Syria whilst battling IS militants.

Turkey's concern is that an autonomous Kurdish region bordering Syria may embolden the Kurdish population to seek an independent Kurdish state.

Some 40,000 were killed since 1984, when the armed group launched its first attack. Enditem