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Killing of fourth Turkish soldier in a week threatens fragile peace with Kurds

By Jonathon Burch 30/10/2014
The latest killing took place in Diyarbakir. AA photo.
The latest killing took place in Diyarbakir. AA photo.

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Unidentified gunmen have murdered a Turkish soldier in the southeast of the country, the military said on Thursday, in the fourth such killing in less than a week, dealing a further blow to an already shaky peace process between Kurdish militants and the Turkish state.

Two masked men shot the officer at close range in the back of the head while he was out shopping with his family on Wednesday afternoon in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast, the military said in a statement.

The incident comes only days after three Turkish soldiers were gunned down on Saturday in Hakkari province further east, also while out shopping, which the military has since blamed on militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Those killings were reportedly in retaliation for the killing of three PKK insurgents a day earlier in eastern Kars province after the militants had launched a raid on a power plant. The military condemned Wednesday's “brutal” attack but said it had not yet identified the assailants.

The recent spate of violence has threatened to derail fragile peace negotiations launched by Ankara two years ago with the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan. Apart from isolated incidents, the country had enjoyed a relative calm since the start of talks, and after Ocalan called a ceasefire to mark the Kurdish New Year in March 2013.

The unrest broke out across the southeast earlier this month with deadly riots by Kurds outraged over Turkey's reluctance to intervene in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane on the Turkish frontier where Kurdish fighters were struggling against an onslaught by Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists. More than 30 were killed in street violence of a scale not seen since the early 1990s.

Under increasing international pressure, Turkey has since allowed Peshmerga fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan to cross over its territory and on Thursday some 150 of them were waiting to cross into Kobane to fight alongside their Kurdish brethren.

However, the events surrounding Kobane have laid bare a deep sense of mistrust between many of Turkey's estimated 15 million Kurds and Ankara. In a move likely to enflame tensions further, the main pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) has called for people to take to the streets on November 1 in solidarity with Kobane's Kurdish defenders and to protest Turkey's alleged support of ISIS.

Ankara has already blamed the HDP for this month's riots. Kurdish politicians and many ordinary Kurds accuse Turkey of helping ISIS, a charge it denies, while Ankara is wary of helping Kurds across the border in Syria because it sees them as an extension of the PKK.

While both the government and Ocalan have delivered upbeat messages saying the peace process was still on track, the fallout over Kobane and the resulting violence may be harder to contain.

For many Turks the mere idea of talking to the PKK, whose insurgency has led to the death of some 40,000 people over the past 30 years, is too much to stomach, and the sight of flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers will only harden that resistance.

While Turkey's current government has done more to enhance the rights of Kurds than any other in the country's history, many Kurds say they do not go far enough. Some critics also say Ankara's peace moves are aimed solely at securing Kurdish votes in next year's general elections.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made clear his desire to turn Turkey's current political system into a executive presidential, entrusting him with more powers. However, in order to do so the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will need an overall majority to be able to change the constitution.


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kurt basar | 30/10/2014
All those killings are done by Turkish Military intelligence forces for to divert the World attention from the Kobane and Kurd's. These killings are last desperate attacks by the Mr. Talib Erdogan and his criminal gangs who are supporters and defenders of the ISIL TERRORISTS, for to show the world that they are fighting terrorism too. But America isn't going to buy that because they know the zealot Sunni Muslim Turkish president, the Mr. Erdogan is no longer with them but against them at this Medieval savage war. The Mr. Erdogan should know by now, the USA isn't going let anybody get away by beheading the American citizen and killing, raping and selling the young daughters of their friends.
Kandil | 30/10/2014
Now that US and EU is helping, Kurds should go after independence, the only way to guarantee long lasting protection to Kurdish people
Fuad | 30/10/2014
False flag operations is Turkish specialty, the guy that staged the attack on 33 Turkish troops in 1993 which was the cause of the collapse of the "peace process" back then now works the Turkish government!!! it turns out he was a MIT agent inside PKK. Unfortunately Turkish secrete service has hundreds of agents planted inside PKK. Ocelan was furious about the attack in 1993 as he is now with these latest attacks but he knows he can't stop them because Turkey is bent on restarting the civil war, PKK will oblige.
David | 30/10/2014
it comes back to the lawmaker in Turkish parliament to resign on some solution to end the brutality against Kurds in turkey , who is this Mr. kerdogan , has trapped the country in to turmoil, why should he be so unlawful person,
Hans Guderian | 31/10/2014
PKK is asking for war, and this time, it won't be a war between the army and the PKK militants, but between Turks and Kurds. There is all signs of civil war.

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