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 Who are the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks TAK?

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Who are the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks TAK?  23.6.2010  

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June 23, 2010

The Kurdish Freedom Hawks [Kurdistan Freedom Falcons], a Kurdish separatist group, claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a Turkish military bus in Turkey's largest city of Istanbul that killed five people on Tuesday. Here are some key facts about the group:


-- Teyrebazen Azadiya Kurdistan, or TAK, carried out its first attacks in 2004. The early bombings were largely small and non-lethal, but from 2005 onwards TAK launched more deadly attacks. In July that year it bombed a minibus in the western Turkish holiday resort of Kusadasi, killing at least five people including a British woman and an Irish woman.

-- In January 2008 the United States said it had designated the TAK as a terrorist group, subjecting it to U.S. financial sanctions.            

TAK (Teyr
nbazn Azadya Kurdistan).
-- Although little is known about the TAK, the group is believed to have links with the Turkey Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the main separatist group operating in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey [Northern Kurdistan]. The PKK,www.ekurd.netfounded by Abdullah Ocalan in 1974, had taken up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in the southeast. Nearly 40,000 people have been killed in the resulting conflict since then.

-- The TAK has deliberately attacked Turkish and foreign civilians. The geographical spread of TAK attacks also suggests that its members live in Kurdish migrant communities in western Turkey and in Istanbul, rather than in the Kurdish heartlands of the southeast that were the focus of PKK actions.


-- It claims to oppose Turkey's "false policies on the Kurdish issue", and to be seeking revenge for the deaths of Kurds at the hands of the Turkish government.


-- Six people were wounded, one seriously, after a bomb exploded at a supermarket in Istanbul in February 2006. The TAK claimed responsibility for the blast and pledged more attacks.

-- Three people were killed and 87 injured in a blast in Antalya, southern Turkey in August 2006. The TAK claimed responsibility.

-- In August 2008 the group claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in the Turkish coastal cities of Mersin and Izmir. A suspected suicide bomber detonated a bomb in his car near Mersin, killing himself and wounding 12 police officers. Two days later 16 people were wounded, including eight police and three soldiers, in a car bomb which ripped through a minibus in Izmir.

WHO ARE THE TAK (Teyrnbazn Azadya Kurdistan): Other sources

It's not entirely clear. Some observers believe it's little more than a front for the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), the Kurdish separatist group that fought the Turkish army for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey [Turkey-Kurdistan] which has claimed around 45,000 lives of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas.

But others say there is strong evidence it is a splinter group led by commanders who have split from the PKK because of dissatisfaction with its tactics, along the lines of the Real IRA and the IRA.

The Falcons first appeared in 2004 - the same year the PKK renounced a unilateral ceasefire. The direct targeting of tourists would be a change in recent tactics for the PKK. Even in its heyday, much of the PKK's efforts were directed against the Turkish military - although there were attacks on civilians, including tourists.

Today the PKK is a shadow of its former self. The guerrilla army which fought for control of Kurdish  cities in south-eastern Turkey during the Nineties is largely gone, defeated by a combination of brutal tactics by the Turkish army, and a dramatic coup when Turkey captured its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, in 1999, and paraded him before television cameras in chains.

After Ocalan called for a peaceful solution from the dock, during his trial by Turkey, the PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire. But it ended the ceasefire in 2004. Since then, the PKK has resumed violence, mostly against the Turkish military. In the meantime, the Falcons have emerged with a series of attacks on civilians.

Sources Reuters;; (part of U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

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