PKK ends unilateral halt of attacks as Turkey vows no let-up


The armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) declared Thursday an end to a unilateral cessation of military activities against Turkey that it had announced last month.

The PKK blamed the Turkish state and the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) for continued attacks against the group and curfews in the mainly Kurdish south-east of the country over the past weeks, after the government had rebuffed the calls to halt violence.

“The unilateral inaction was ended with the AKP’s war polities and these attacks,” according to a statement carried by the pro-PKK Firat news agency.

The Turkish military had just announced that it had killed 31 alleged PKK members in the restive Hakkari province in the south-east in the past day. There was no confirmation of the deaths from the PKK itself.

Witnesses in northern Iraq also said there were fresh airstrikes against PKK bases in the area, the latest in a series of aerial raids taking place this week.

“The turn of events is frustrating because there’s clearly no solution without formal negotiations. Both sides are strong enough to keep fighting indefinitely but neither side is strong enough to force the other into defeat,” said Aliza Marcus, an analyst on Kurdish affairs.

“The problem is the PKK has no incentive to suspend fighting right now,” Marcus told dpa.

The Turkish military operations in Yuksekova district of Hakkari come as both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu separately this week pledged that there would be no let-up in the fight against the PKK.

The army confirmed two soldiers died in the fighting in Yuksekova, which has been a hotbed of unrest for months and has seen intense fresh fighting since the start of the week, including Turkish airstrikes.

Meanwhile, in the Silvan district of Diyarbakir province, fighting continued. The Dogan news agency reported three civilians, a PKK militant and a police officer were killed.

The PKK last month declared it was halting attacks ahead of parliamentary elections and following a twin suicide bombing in Ankara which killed 100 people and was blamed on the Islamic State militant group.

“There will be no let-up,” Erdogan said on Wednesday, vowing to fight until the PKK laid down its arms inside Turkey.

Davutoglu, meanwhile, said operations would continue through winter, according to the Anadolu news agency.

The leaders’ AKP swept parliamentary elections on Sunday, ensuring the party can govern alone.

Talks between the state and the PKK led to a ceasefire in 2013, which broke down in July, after an alleged Islamic State suicide bomber killed 34 people at a pro-Kurdish rally, setting off a chain of events. Negotiations had stagnated months earlier.

Government officials have implied a new process with the Kurdish minority could be started, but it is unclear what this would involve.

Hundreds of people have died inside Turkey since the violence restarted in July. Turkey also regularly carries out air raids against PKK bases in northern Iraq.

The PKK began as a separatist group, launching its first attacks in 1984, saying the Kurdish minority was facing systematic discrimination. Since then, the group has moderated its stance to demanding autonomy and greater rights.

Some 40,000 have died in the conflict over the past three decades, mostly in the south-east of Turkey, which is largely Kurdish. The minority group makes up an estimated 15 per cent of the population.

The PKK’s sister wing in Syria, the YPG, is at the forefront of battles against the Islamic State group. There is concern the suicide attacks are a sign of a spillover into Turkey.