One day after a Turkish air attack killed dozens of civilians in the Kurdish region of Sirnak, the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) called on the people of Turkish Kurdistan to rise against the government.
AFP reports that Bahoz Edal, a PKK commander, issued a statement condemning the attacks, saying: “We call on the people of Kurdistan, especially those in Hakari and Sirnak, to react against the massacre carried out by the Turkish army by rising up and bringing the perpetrators of this massacre to justice.”
Yesterday, the Forat News Agency, which regularly covers news about Turkish Kurds, reported that at least 35 civilian Kurds were killed in aerial bombardments by Turkish forces.
The PKK has been active in the region for years, and some local officials have said the Turkish forces probably hit civilians by mistake.
However, Bahoz Erdal said: “This massacre was not an unwanted event; it was a planned and organized massacre.”
Turkish regional officials said the victims of the aerial attacks were Kurdish porters who transport smuggled cigarettes from the Iraqi border.
The Turkish army announced that the aerial attacks had targeted insurgents who were trying to enter Turkish territory, and were carried out in a region where “there are no civilians and where terrorist military bases are located.”
Erdal says, however, that “the porters carry out their border trade under the supervision of military officials in the region, and it is impossible to have been mistaken about these civilians.”
He said people are moving almost every day along the border, and Turkish authorities are familiar with their movements.
Turkish authorities have expressed regret over the incident and announced that a special committee will investigate.
The PKK was founded in 1984 and claims to fight for the rights of the Kurdish minority in Turkey. In recent decades, clashes between Turkey and the PKK have claimed the lives of 45,000 people.