Turkey warns 'other powers' it sees behind deadly PKK attack
Militants loyal to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) launched attacks on Turkish soldiers and police Wednesday, killing at least 24. Turkish forces responded by launching raids and airstrikes against the group in northern Iraq.
Kurdish militants launched their most deadly attacks in years on Turkish soldiers and police on Wednesday, killing at least 24 and prompting cross border raids into northern Iraq and airstrikes by Turkish forces.Skip to next paragraph
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The attacks by the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, and the robust response by the Turkish government, risk wider resumption of a conflict that has left 40,000 dead since 1984, but been quieter since political efforts to provide greater Kurdish rights commenced in 2009.
The Wednesday attacks came after a roadside bomb on Tuesday that killed five Turkish soldiers and three civilians – among them a four-year-old girl. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.
"Whoever supports terror, feeds it and helps it; whoever tolerates it and ignores its inhumane attacks, tries to cover the bloody face of terror," said Erdogan. "I want to let them all know that Turkey is breathing down their necks all the time."
The Turkish leader reached further, too, blaming unnamed local actors for trying to end Turkey's rise as a regional power. The latest attack, Erdogan said, showed that "terror is a tool in the hands of certain powers. The PKK are subcontractors used by other forces and other powers, trying to provoke Turkish society."
Some 600 Turkish mountain commandos were reportedly deployed five miles into northern Iraq looking for targets, backed up by helicopter gunships, according to Turkish media. By mid-afternoon local time, reports emerged that 15 PKK militants had been killed.
"No one should forget that those who make us suffer this pain will be made to suffer even stronger," President Abdullah Gul said. "They will see that the vengeance for these attacks will be great."
Erdogan and the Turkish foreign minister cancelled trips abroad, and Turkey's top military commanders traveled to the remote southeast districts of Cukurca and Yuksekova in Hakkari Province, where ethnic Kurds dominate the region.
Warnings to Iraq
Turkey last week warned Iraqi authorities to deal with attacks staged from its soil, saying its “patience” was running out. Despite the potential regional reverberations, the timing of the attacks fits a previous pattern, experts say.