Heinous PKK attack in Hakkari leaves eight dead as anti-terror operations heat up / PM: Turkey strong enough to put PKK’s ‘foreign backers’ in their place

6 August 2012 / MEHMET GÜNGÖR, HAKKARİ – Zaman – Six soldiers and two village guards were killed and several others wounded when members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacked military outposts in the southeastern province of Hakkari, sources said on Sunday.The simultaneous attacks came overnight on four bases on the outskirts of the Çukurca district of Hakkari, which borders Iraq. The Geçimli, Üzümlü, Karataş and Darsinki military outposts were targeted by the terrorist PKK with firearms and rockets. A clash ensued after security forces responded to the attacks.

The military sent reinforcements and at least four attack helicopters to Çukurca to fight the terrorist group, and operations were continuing on Sunday. A fire erupted at the Geçimli outpost after the attack. The fire reportedly started when grassland around the outpost caught fire during the clashes between security forces and terrorists.

A statement released by the Hakkari Governor’s Office read that 15 soldiers, a village guard and five civilians were injured in the attacks. The injured were rushed to Hakkari State Hospital and the Hakkari Military Hospital. Fourteen PKK terrorists were also killed in the clash. The statement added that an air-backed ground operation was under way in the region to capture the terrorists.

PKK terrorists laid land mines in some parts of the area as they fled in order to prevent a pursuit by security forces. One of the mines was reportedly set off by remote control as a group of soldiers passed by. No casualties were reported.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan strongly condemned the attacks, saying the “terrorist group displayed its hostility to Turkey’s national and moral values by attacking security forces during Ramadan.” He also said terrorist groups and its aides which target Turkey’s fraternity, unity and peace will not go beyond becoming “dark spots” in history.

The bloody attacks on the military outposts came amid ongoing and heated clashes in southeastern Turkey along the border with Iraq. The Turkish military launched a large-scale operation in Hakkari’s Şemdinli district more than a week ago when PKK terrorists blocked the road of a village in the region and interrogated villagers. Security sources say around 100 PKK terrorists have been killed there since the operation began. Journalists and other non-residents have been barred from entering Şemdinli for security reasons. The military has destroyed depots of food, munitions and medicine belonging to the PKK in the area. In addition, Turkish fighter jets shelled targets of the terrorist organization in the Hakurk and Avaşin-Basyan areas in northern Iraq. Cobra and Sikorsky helicopters were also used in the operation.

Sources close to the military who wished to remain anonymous said the PKK was hoping to kick start an uprising in southeastern Turkey similar to the Arab Spring and that the Turkish military had ruined its efforts with the operation.

Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the United States, the PKK has been carrying out a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984. Dozens of soldiers have been killed in clashes with the PKK over the past months.

Also on Sunday, the Turkish military began to shell PKK hideouts on Mount Kato.

The latest PKK attack is reminiscent of an earlier bloody attack by the same terrorist group in Hakkari. Eight soldiers were killed and 16 wounded in June when PKK terrorists crossed the northern Iraqi border into Turkey and from three positions attacked a military outpost in Dağlıca, a neighborhood in the Yüksekova district of Hakkari.

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay expressed his grief over the killing of soldiers and village guards as a result of the terrorist attack, and said the government is working to the end acts of terror which have gone on for the past 30 years. “Our [military] outposts were attack overnight. Six soldiers and two village guards were killed. Many other terrorists were also killed. We are sorry, but this is a struggle that has gone on for the past 30 years. We are keeping up our efforts against terror as the government and the state. We do not neglect measures [in the anti-terror fight],” the deputy minister told reporters. Atalay also conveyed his condolences to the families of slain soldiers and village guards.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Ömer Çelik condemned the PKK terror, and said the latest attack is an “open indication of the support the PKK lends to [Bashar al-] Assad,” the Syrian president. According to Çelik, the Çukurca attack is not something the PKK can organize and launch on its own, and the terrorist group has probably received “international support” to launch the attack.

The PKK attack on the four outposts also brought the unsafe conditions of military outposts back onto the agenda. The outposts, located among high and rocky mountains, were once built as part of Turkey’s efforts to curb smuggling in the region, but have remained neglected. The government vowed to reinforce outposts in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions after bloody terrorist attacks claimed the lives of dozens of soldiers in the past few years, but the reinforcements have not yet been completed.

In the recent past, 155 new outposts have been planned for the Land Forces Command and 228 for the Gendarmerie General Command. The construction of 312 of these was assigned to the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), a prime ministerial agency that usually builds mass housing projects, schools and sports facilities. In late 2011, TOKİ announced that 78 of these outposts had been completed and delivered to the security forces, while 195 were still under construction. Eighty-three were in the initial phases of project creation.

President Abdullah Gül issued a written statement in which he expressed his condemnation of the PKK and sent his condolences to the families of slain soldiers and village guards. “The terrorist group has engaged in an ugly plan during this year’s Ramadan. Our security forces have taken measures in order to foil that plan and engaged in a struggle to this end. We have martyrs that tear our hearts out. May they rest in peace,” the message read. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), also condemned the PKK and its deadly attack in a written statement.

Meanwhile, a funeral ceremony for a young boy, who was pronounced dead after being wounded during an illegal demonstration in which he participated last week, turned into a pro-PKK event when attendees of the funeral covered the boy’s coffin with the flag of the terrorist group. The funeral ceremony was held in southern Adana on Sunday. Attendees also chanted slogans in favor of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the terrorist PKK.

‘KCK operations prevented possible PKK insurgency’

Mehmet Özcan, chairman of the Ankara Strategy Institute, told Today’s Zaman that the terrorist PKK has decided to stage bloody attacks against military members after its plan to unite its urban and rural forces was foiled by Turkey’s security forces.“Had operations against the Kurdistan Communities Union [KCK] not been staged, the PKK would have united its forces in the urban and rural areas and launch an insurgency this year,” Özcan said.

The KCK is an umbrella organization under which the PKK operates. The full name of the group is KCK-Parliament of Turkey. It is an organization which makes decisions, carries out the PKK’s armed struggle and controls local and central units of the PKK. The KCK’s role is especially to attempt to influence local administrations, and its structure and operations are under the leadership of Öcalan. The KCK operates as the PKK’s urban wing. The PKK fights against Turkish security forces in the mountains and remote places, while the KCK carries out terrorist attacks in urban environments. Dozens of people, including politicians, mayors and students, have been arrested as part of operations against the group.

Özcan also said Turkey should unearth the KCK’s relations with foreign forces to fully understand the group and its actions.