PKK targets opposition voices in country's southeast


The latest instance of violence where the PKK terrorist organization targeted local politicians in Turkey's eastern and southeastern regions is raising concern about the increasingly dire outlook of the conflict.

Late Saturday, the relative of İbrahim Vanlı who is the Muradiye district head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the Van province, Adnan Vanlı, who also works as a village guard, became the latest casualty of the PKK.

Terrorists opened fire on the convoy of AK Party officials hoping to take out İbrahim Vanlı, the district head of the AK Party, however, the terrorists ended up killing his relative, Adnan Vanlı.

The PKK has been opposing yesterday's referendum on constitutional change. Media outlets, and social media users linked to the group identified political parties and politicians campaigning for a "yes" vote, who were then targeted by PKK terrorists.

More than 1,200 victims, including security personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU, resumed its decades-old armed campaign against the state in July 2015.

Here is a list of attacks by the PKK which targeted both AK Party officials and those from the Free Cause Party (Hüda-Par) which enjoys the support of ethnic Kurds opposing the PKK:

June 29, 2010: Ahmet Uçar, AK Party district chairman of Hakkari's Yuksekova district, targeted with a hand grenade attack in his home. No injuries were reported.

July 2, 2012: Three armed PKK terrorists kidnap AK Party District Chairman of Van's Gürpınar district Hayrullah Tanis, released him on August 24, 2012.

September 3, 2012: Former AK Party provincial chairman of Hakkari and lawyer Mecit Tarhan is kidnapped. He was released on October 5, 2012, in Iraq.

March 16, 2014: Zeki Karakuş, AK Party municipal election candidate in Van and four other party members are assaulted while campaigning.

April 17, 2014: PKK members kidnap former local municipal AK Party head Abit Doğruer along with three others in Diyarbakır's Dicle district. They were released on April 20, 2014.

May 17, 2014: PKK terrorists try to kidnap Hüda-Par members Ali Ayik and Mikail Ayik in Diyarbakır's Dicle district. Locals prevented the attempt but three people were wounded during the struggle.

October 17, 2014: Mehmet Latif Şener, 66-year-old tradesmen known for being a Hüda-Par follower, is assassinated in a street attack. Two terrorists were caught while trying to flee to a PKK base in the Qandil Mountains.

June 5, 2015: Servet Tutkun, AK Party district chairman of Erzurum's Karayazı district, kidnapped and assaulted. Tutkun was released the same day.

March 29, 2016: Salih Zeki Çetinkaya, AK Party district chairman of Erzurum's İspir district, was kidnapped on the Bingöl-Diyarbakır Motorway while he and his brother were travelling to Şanlıurfa. Cetinkaya escaped two days later.

August 13, 2016: Naci Adıyaman, head of the AK Party's youth branch in Şırnak's Beytüşşebap district is kidnapped. His body was later found.

September 1, 2016: PKK members kidnap and murder 29-year-old Menderes Özer, member of the AK Party and son of the former chairman of a village guard association.

September 10, 2016: PKK leaves explosives at family grave of Kurdish-born AK Party Deputy Chairman Mehdi Eker.

September 14, 2016: Ahmet Budak, former AK Party parliamentary candidate of Hakkari province, killed outside his home in front of his son.

October 9, 2016: AK Party district deputy head in Özalp district of eastern Van province, Aydın Mustu, killed at his home in front of his children.

October 11, 2016: AK Party district chairman in southeastern Diyarbakır's Dicle district, Deryan Aktert, killed at his workplace.

October 16, 2016: Mehmet Şerif Doğu, member of municipality council in Erciş district of Van, killed in front of his home.

As for Vanlı's murder, security forces rounded up 17 suspects yesterday in connection with the attack and an investigation is underway. Turkey's southeastern and eastern regions, where a large ethnic Kurdish population lives, have been at the crosshairs of conflicts with PKK militants since the early 1980s when the terrorist group first emerged as a major threat to Turkish security, launching a string of attacks.

On Tuesday, three people including a policeman were killed when explosives that had been planted at police headquarters in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır went off. Authorities announced yesterday that three suspects, including the mastermind of the attack, were captured in counter-terror operations. The blast, initially thought to be result of an accident at a repair shop for police vehicles inside the headquarters, turned out to be an act of terror.

Security forces discovered a tunnel at the scene, apparently dug by militants where they had gained access into the place after entering the tunnel through a construction site located across the street.

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