PKK suspends militant withdrawal

Sept. 5, 2013 at 9:59 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The Kurdistan Workers' Party said it was suspending its withdrawal from Turkish territory because the government wasn't meetings its settlement obligations.

Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the militant organization Kurdistan Workers' Party, in March called on his fighters to leave Turkey as part of a peace initiative brokered with the government. The group is known by its Kurdish initials PKK.

The PKK didn't disarm as part of the deal. Last month, Turkish leaders said militants weren't serious about peace.

Cemil Bayik, leader of the military arm of the PKK, said Thursday fighters were suspending their withdrawal because the Turkish government wasn't living up to its end of the bargain.

"Turkish government has not acted until now. This shows that they are not after a solution," he was quoted as saying Thursday by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman. "We will defend ourselves. We're stopping the withdrawal."

Some Kurdish fighters had crossed the border into northern Iraq. Bayik said they'd be recalled if the Turkish military started attacking Kurdish militants.

Pro-Kurdish lawmakers said they were frustrated by the lack of security guarantees from the government.

Thousands of people on both sides were killed during the 30-year conflict between the PKK and the Turkish government. The PKK is pressing for more Kurdish rights.

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