Turkey's PKK kidnaps 11, politician

Aug. 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM
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ISTANBUL, Turkey, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Turkey's Kurdish separatist guerillas have been battling the Turkish government since 1984. From bases in northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Works' Party has been mounting guerrilla attacks into southeastern Turkey.

Members of the Kurdistan Works' Party, known by its Turkish language initials of PKK,. Monday kidnapped 11 workers from an earthworks site in the southeastern province of Hakkari.

The militants set fire to 11 trucks and a construction vehicle that were being used in the construction of an airport in Hakkari and then fled, taking 11 drivers from the site with them, Dogan Haber Ajansa news agency reported.

PKK guerrillas Sunday kidnapped parliamentary deputy Huseyin Aygun from the main opposition Republican People's Party, known by the initials CHP, in the southeastern province of Tunceli in the Ovacik district that Aygun represents in Parliament.

The attacks follow a 19-day operation by the Turkish military against the PKK in Hakkari province, which concluded Saturday.

The issue of how to quell the Kurdish insurgency has bedeviled Ankara for many years. By October 2007, increasing cross-border attacks by the PKK, which resulted in 40 casualties and the abduction of eight soldiers, prompted the Turkish Parliament to authorize attacks into northern Iraq against the PKK.

The following month approximately 100,000 Turkish soldiers were posted at the Turkish-Iraqi border awaiting orders before U.S. diplomacy helped to defuse the situation. Washington apparently gave the "green-light for Turks to conduct limited cross-border raids into Iraqi territory," the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank, said.

The situation is different now. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the increased PKK attacks are directly linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria, where the Turkish government maintains that a PKK-linked group controls some border areas and is endeavoring to foment unrest in Turkey's southeastern provinces.

Following Aygun's abduction the Turkish army launched operations against the PKK in the Ahponos Valley in Ovacik.

Dismissing calls by the CHP for a parliamentary meeting to discuss the abduction of its deputy, Ruling Justice and Development Party -- AKP -- Deputy Chairman Huseyin Celik commented during an interview with broadcaster Haberturk that calling an extraordinary meeting of Parliament would allow the PKK to set Turkey's political agenda.

"Parliament can meet if necessary, of course," he said, "but we cannot allow the organization to set the agenda just because they raided a place and killed a few soldiers."

Celik added that even though a lawmaker from Turkish Parliament was kidnapped by the PKK, it wouldn't change AKP policy.

Firat News, a Web site affiliated with the PKK, released a statement by the PKK leadership that Aygun "was detained by our guerrillas." Commenting on the subsequent Turkish military operations the statement continued, "This operation is placing Huseyin Aygun's life in danger.

"The CHP and the public must be aware of this and operations must be halted."

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