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 Kurdish teen killed at PKK funeral in Turkey's southeast

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Kurdish teen killed at PKK funeral in Turkey's southeast  8.6.2012  

PKK funereal in the Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey. Photo: DHA.
June 8, 2012

DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey, — A 15-year-old Kurdish boy was killed and one man wounded in Turkey's troubled southeast after gunfire erupted during the funeral of a Kurdish separatist militant, a local official said on Thursday.

The incident late on Wednesday occurred a day after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan held a landmark meeting with Kemal Kilicdarolgu, leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), setting aside differences to thrash out a common approach to ending the long-running conflict.

There were conflicting accounts about who opened fire on the funeral procession in the Kurdish town of Yusekova near the border with Iraqi Kurdistan region after it turned into a rally in support of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a militant group that took up arms against the Turkish state in the early 1980s.

District official Aziz Uzeyir Ozeren told reporters at the town in Hakkari province that PKK gunmen, wearing civilian clothes rather than their usual green fatigues, fired on protesters to stir trouble. Firat News, a website close to the PKK, said police were responsible.

Teenager Ozgur Tasar was killed and Veysel Yildirim, 34, was wounded, Ozeren said.

Tensions are bubbling up anew in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast as the PKK steps up attacks following a spring thaw.

For its part, the government has taken a harder stance against the PKK over the past year, halting state contacts with the militant group and arresting members of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) for alleged ties to the PKK.

Turkey has also warned Syria against encouraging PKK attacks as payback for Ankara's strong stand in support of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

In a separate incident late on Wednesday, PKK militants kidnapped three people, including a soldier, near the town of Lice in Diyarbakir province in Turkey Kurdistan (northern Kurdistan), security sources said.

A group of militants set up a roadblock and stopped about 30 vehicles to check identification cards before taking the soldier and two others captive, they said. Security forces have launched an operation in the area to rescue the hostages.

The PKK has scaled back its demands for an independent homeland to some political autonomy for Turkey's estimated to over 20 million ethnic Kurds.

But a political solution appears difficult as thousands of Kurdish politicians and activists have been arrested in recent years and remain in prison during their trials on charges connected with supporting the PKK.

On Thursday, police detained six mayors belonging to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, including the mayor of the city of Van, on charges of links with the PKK.

The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem, Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.

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 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region 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 constitution.

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 expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara and 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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