12 killed in a massive operation on
Kurdish PKK rebels in Turkey
March 22, 2012
Turkish soldiers patrol on a road in the Turkey's
Kurdish region in southeastern province of Sirnak.
The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds'
identity in its constitution and of their language
as a native language along with Turkish in the
country's Kurdish areas,
the party also demanded an end to
ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and
constitution against Kurds, ranting them full
DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey,
— Six Kurdish rebels and six Turkish policemen have
been killed during a massive operation targeting PKK
militants in the Kurdish region in southeastern
Turkey, security sources told AFP on Thursday.
Backed by helicopters and fighter jets, thousands of
security forces, including police and the army, were
participating in the largest anti-rebel operation so
far this year which began on Tuesday, they said.
The clashes were still continuing Thursday on the
outskirts of Mount Cudi in Sirnak province, near the
Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan border.
Special Turkish police forces have lately played a
much bigger role in the fight against the rebel
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a task mostly
handled by soldiers in the past.
The operation is the biggest since Turkish air
Kurdish smugglers near the Iraqi Kurdistan region
border in December when commanders mistook them for
Most of the victims were less than 20 years old.
Turkey in October launched a major air and land
offensive against the rebels in the southeast of the
country and in northern Iraq after 24 of its troops
were killed in a night-time ambush by rebels.
In recent months, the government has also
intensified pressure on alleged sympathisers of
Kurdish separatist rebels.
The drive is part of a crackdown on the banned
Kurdish Communities Union (KCK),www.ekurd.net
suspected to be the political wing of the PKK.
Turkish authorities accuse the group of trying to
topple state institutions in the south and southeast
and trying to foment a rebellion.
Since 2009, about 700 people -- including lawmakers,
intellectuals and mayors -- have been arrested for
alleged links to the KCK, according to the
government. Kurdish sources however put the number
at around 3,500.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been
fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the
constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a
Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous
and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who
constitute the greatest minority in Turkey,
numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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