The identities of 10 out of the 13 victims of the PKK execution in northern Iraq's Gara region have been determined, Malatya Gov. Aydın Baruş said after a forensic investigation Sunday.
The bodies of the victims were brought to Turkey for an autopsy Sunday and airlifted to the Forensic Medicine Institute in eastern Malatya for identification. Police forces took extensive security measures around the institute to safeguard the procedures.
The Malatya governor underlined that the PKK terrorists' claim that the civilians were killed in a car bombing is a "heinous lie."
"12 of our citizens were shot in the head by the PKK terrorists while one was shot in the shoulder," he said. Baruş further added that 10 victims killed by the PKK have been identified.
Earlier in the day, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar revealed that the PKK terrorists executed 13 Turkish citizens in a cave in northern Iraq after abducting them. Most were shot in the head.
"In preliminary investigations, it was determined that 12 of our innocent and unarmed citizens were shot in the head and martyred while another was shot in the shoulder and martyred,” he said. The grim news comes as Turkey is carrying out the Claw-Eagle 2 anti-terror operation in northern Iraq.
"While our activities in the Operation Claw-Eagle 2 area continue, in a search of a cave taken under control following intense clashes, the bodies of 13 of our abducted citizens were found," said Akar.
The PKK managed to establish a foothold in Iraq, particularly in the Sinjar region in mid-2014 on the pretext of protecting the local Yazidi community from Daesh terrorists. Since then, the PKK has reportedly established a new command base in Sinjar to carry out logistical activities.
Turkey has long been stressing that it will not tolerate threats posed to its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorists. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps were not taken, it would not shy away from targeting the group. Recently, Akar expressed that Turkey was prepared to provide assistance to Iraq in clearing terrorists from the region. Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has called the PKK's presence in Sinjar unacceptable and urged the militants to leave the area.
Turkey launched Operations Claw-Tiger and Claw-Eagle last June to ensure the safety of Turks and its national borders by eliminating terrorist threats. Operation Claw-Eagle 2 was launched last week.
In its more than 40-year terrorist campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women and children.