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Deaths of Troopers and Policemen Held by Kurdish Guerrillas Roils Turkish Politics

ISTANBUL — Turks reacted with shock and anger Monday to the information that Kurdish guerrillas had executed 13 Turkish troopers and cops held captive in a cave within the mountains of northern Iraq.

The lads had been being held hostage by members of the Kurdistan Employees’ Celebration, or P.Okay.Okay., a Maoist guerrilla motion that has been combating the Turkish state for greater than three a long time. Turkish troopers found their our bodies in a cave throughout a army operation in Iraq’s Gara area, the federal government stated Sunday. The entire hostages had been executed, all however one with gunshots to the top, it stated.

The loss of life toll, and the style wherein the lads had been killed, landed like a bombshell in Turkey’s tense and divided politics. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his political allies condemned the assault, as opposition events questioned why the federal government had failed to barter the lads’s launch and had risked a army operation to rescue them.

The P.Okay.Okay. stated the deaths had been attributable to airstrikes throughout the Turkish army operation that started on Feb. 10. The Turkish minister of protection, Hulusi Akar, stated that the P.Okay.Okay. commander in cost had executed the lads as quickly because the operation started.

Twelve of the hostages who’ve been recognized had been junior members of the military and army police. All had been captured 5 – 6 years in the past by the P.Okay.Okay. in a interval after peace negotiations between the Turkish authorities and the Kurdish guerrillas had damaged down.

The guerrillas typically arrange impromptu roadblocks on distant roads in areas of japanese and southeastern Turkey, and abduct members of the armed forces touring on public buses or non-public automobiles to go dwelling to go to their households and return to their bases.

The lads discovered within the cave had been kidnapped and brought throughout the border into the mountains of northern Iraq, a area that the P.Okay.Okay. has lengthy used as a rear base.

Ozturk Turkdogan, head of the Turkish Human Rights Affiliation stated the group had been in contact with 10 of the hostages’ households since 2015. However regardless of efforts to press for negotiations, the Turkish safety providers had been unyielding of their pursuit of army operations, he stated. Talking on Arti TV, he additionally criticized the P.Okay.Okay. for holding the hostages for therefore lengthy.

The incident might show politically damaging for Mr. Erdogan, however may give him ammunition to whip up nationalist feeling and crack down on his opponents.

He referred to as the mom of one of many slain troopers throughout a speech broadcast on nationwide tv on Monday, promising to avenge her son’s loss of life. His political ally, Devlet Bahceli, chief of the Nationalist Motion Celebration, vowed that anybody exhibiting sympathy for the Kurdish group could be handled as a terrorist and confederate.

Mr. Erdogan lashed out in opposition to the P.Okay.Okay. in his speech, and stated that america and the pro-Kurdish political social gathering in Turkey had been additionally chargeable for the troopers’ deaths.

He blamed america for supporting and arming the Folks’s Safety Items, or Y.P.G., an affiliate of the Kurdish group, which U.S. forces use to battle in opposition to the Islamic State in Syria, regardless that Washington, together with Turkey and the European Union, has designated the P.Okay.Okay. a terrorist group.

“If we’re along with you in NATO, if we’re to proceed our unity, then you’ll act sincerely towards us,” Mr. Erdogan stated within the speech, made to members of his social gathering at a gathering in Rize, in Turkey’s Black Sea area. “Then, you’ll stand with us, not with the terrorists.”

The Turkish overseas ministry stated it had summoned the American ambassador Monday to protest in opposition to the conditional wording of a U.S. State Division assertion issued on the incident, which learn, “If studies of the loss of life of Turkish civilians by the hands of the P.Okay.Okay., a delegated terrorist group, are confirmed, we condemn this motion within the strongest doable phrases.”

The professional-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Celebration, or H.D.P., is usually accused of terrorism for its ties to the P.Okay.Okay. Mr. Erdogan’s criticism might sign of latest wave of oppression in opposition to the social gathering, which has seen many elected representatives and activists faraway from their positions and detained.

Anadolu Company, the state-run information service, reported that an investigation had been opened in opposition to two H.D.P. lawmakers, for “provocative” social media posts on the incident when information first broke of the killings on Sunday. The H.D.P. stated Monday that 700 folks, together with social gathering officers, had been detained in a single day across the nation.

Members of the H.D.P. and of the Human Rights Affiliation have prior to now labored to mediate with the P.Okay.Okay. and safe the discharge of hostages. The 2 lawmakers being investigated had met with households of the hostages.

The social gathering referred to as on the federal government and the P.Okay.Okay. to offer an account of what occurred in a press release Monday.

“The federal government is able to account for the losses to the households of the deceased and to society, as a substitute of asking our social gathering to account for them,” the assertion learn.

“Likewise, the P.Okay.Okay. ought to inform the general public of Turkey and the world about how the captives misplaced their lives, which had been entrusted to them, and about their accountability for these deaths.”

The social gathering additionally referred to as P.Okay.Okay. to launch different captives of their arms.

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