ANKARA, Turkey, June 7 (UPI) -- There is a possible connection between the Israeli raid on a Turkish-flagged vessel and Kurdish militants, Turkish intelligence officials speculate.
Militants with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, stormed a Turkish naval base May 31 in the port city of Iskenderun, killing six Turkish soldiers in the attack. On the same day, nine Turkish nationals were killed when Israeli forces raided a vessel said to be delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Sedat Laciner, a director at Ankara's International Strategic Research Organization, told the Turkish daily newspaper Today's Zaman that the two episodes may be connected.
He said there is growing speculation that Israeli intelligence officials have worked with the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK. PJAK is affiliated with the blacklisted PKK.
Huseyin Celik, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, suggested the Iskenderun raid and the flotilla incident were connected.
"We don't think the incident (Iskenderun attack) was coincidental," he said.
Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay told Cabinet officials last week that recent events required a "delicate" approach, adding Ankara needed to avoid making "careless statements."