PKK wants mutual assurances of peace

March 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, March 25 (UPI) -- A cease-fire from Kurdish rebels in Turkey will endure only if both parties to the conflict respect the agreement, a militant leader said.

The Turkish government approached Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, in October about a possible peace deal. Ocalan said last week the group, known by its Kurdish initials PKK, would lay down its weapons and leave Turkish territory.

Acting PKK leader Murat Karayilan said rebel fighters in Turkey have taken their fingers "off the trigger" but maintained the right to self-defense.

"In the face of attacks (from Turkish forces) seeking to destroy us, the militants have the right to self-defense and to retaliate," he was quoted by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman as saying. "The cease-fire will not live on too long if it is not mutual."

The Turkish Interior Ministry last year called for bounties of as much as $2.6 million for several of top PKK leaders, including Karayilan.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week he welcomed the efforts at peace. The PKK has waged a military separatist campaign against the Turkish military since the 1980s.

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