PKK attacks: Turkey's leader vows to ‘annihilate’ Kurdish rebels
After the PKK attacks killed 12 Turkish soldiers this weekend, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that his government will not rest until the Kurdish rebels are 'annihilated.'
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The PKK attacks in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeastern region come amid an escalation of violence after the perceived failure of the government’s attempt to solve the Kurdish problem politically, with a reform initiative to give Kurds more political and cultural rights.
Fighters from the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) on Saturday attacked a Turkish military outpost near the border with Iraq, killing nine soldiers. The Turkish military responded with helicopter fire, reportedly killing 12 fighters. Two more soldiers were killed Saturday in a mine blast that Turkey blamed on the PKK, and a PKK attack on a military outpost in Elazig Sunday killed one soldier, reports Bloomberg.
The BBC reports that Mr. Erdogan also called the attacks “cowardly” and said Turkey would not give in to the “spiral of violence” the PKK had initiated.
Turkey responded to the attacks by launching airstrikes against PKK bases inside northern Iraq Saturday.
The AP reports that they killed one Iraqi Kurdish girl and wounded two others. After those strikes, the PKK threatened to expand its reach, saying it would “take our operations to all Turkish cities” if the governmet does not stop its attacks, reports Agence France-Presse.
"Turkey wants to take us towards war," the group’s spokesman, Ahmed Denis, told AFP. "She is not sincere in dealing with the Kurdish issue and doesn't want to deal with this issue peacefully."
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports that the government warned Friday of increased PKK attacks in the coming weeks and months. It said it has killed 130 PKK fighters since March, while 43 Turkish soldiers have been killed. According to AFP, the escalating violence is hurting the government’s Kurdish initiative.
The prime minister on Friday charged the PKK was seeking to undermine the government initiative to boost Kurdish freedoms and investment in the impoverished southeast in a bid to peacefully end the conflict.