A new foray by the PKK terrorist organization on Sunday to gain a foothold in northern Turkey's Black Sea region cost the lives of three Turkish soldiers while two others were injured. Soldiers were combing a wooded area looking for a possible PKK presence when militants opened fire on the military unit. The latest assault by the terrorist group, which usually stages attacks in southeastern Turkey where a predominantly Kurdish population lives, raised concerns among locals in the otherwise peaceful location. Locals in the Mesudiye district of Ordu, where the ambush took place, took up arms as part of a vigilante movement.
The Black Sea region is known for a traditionally high rate of gun ownership. Locals, armed with automatic rifles and pistols, say they simply help security forces that conduct operations in the area and they are not a vigilante movement but rather "standing guard" to protect their homes.
Three police officers were killed and five others were injured on June 19 in Maçka, another Black Sea town when PKK members opened fire on the police squad carrying out routine traffic inspections. Before the attack in Mesudiye, it was the deadliest PKK assault in the region in more than 10 years and prior to that the terrorist organization had largely abstained from any acts of terrorism in the region. Experts say an anti-terror campaign in the southeast in the wake of rising PKK violence, which has killed hundreds since last summer, might have pushed the militants to seek refuge in the Black Sea region. The region has geographical features close to those in the southeast with its steep mountains and offers more places to hide thanks to its thick forests.
The terrorist organization, which claims to fight for Kurdish self-rule in the southeast and seeks support from the Kurdish population there, has stepped up its terrorism campaign after a brief respite following decades of atrocities in the wake of a reconciliation process launched by the government.