More than 330 suspects linked to the PKK terrorist organization were detained in nationwide operations on Monday as Turkey fights to wipe out multiple terror threats across the country. In operations spanning from Istanbul to the eastern city of Van, anti-terror police cracked down on suspects linked to the PKK and its affiliated groups that operate through several factions to avoid blame for terror attacks that kill civilians and security forces. Operations come ahead of planned rallies by PKK supporters to mark the anniversary of the capture of PKK terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan on Feb. 15, 1999 in Kenya and one week after more than 700 suspects linked to Daesh, another major terrorist organization responsible for recent bombings, were captured in nationwide counterterrorism operations. Ankara has vowed to eliminate the PKK threat by spring of this year, a period when the PKK traditionally restores its terror campaign following a winter lull. The PKK have operated in that pattern since the early 1980s when it emerged as a terror threat.
The PKK, which claims to fight for Kurdish self-rule in the predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern Turkey, has killed thousands of civilians in more than three decades of terror attacks. The brief cease-fire agreement brokered with the Turkish government for a reconciliation process collapsed two years ago and the PKK has since resumed its armed campaign in which more than 1,200 people -including security personnel and civilians - have lost their lives. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the EU and Turkey but its senior cadres have long managed to avoid being captured by hiding in the Qadar Mountains in Turkey's southeast as well as areas of northern Iraq where PKK leaders are believed to be currently hiding.
In Istanbul, at least 70 suspects were detained in simultaneous raids, while firearms, munitions and documents containing pro-PKK propaganda were confiscated. Authorities are still searching for 34 other suspects. Twenty-six suspects were arrested in the south-central Adana province, 60 in the southern Mersin province, 35 in the western İzmir province, 11 in the eastern Van province, 12 in the southern Antalya province, 24 in the eastern Malatya, and 93 in southeastern cities of Diyarbakır, Batman, Mardin, Bingöl and Siirt, police sources added.