Senior PKK militant killed in Mardin

Published 20.02.2017 00:03

In a fresh blow to the PKK terrorist organization, security forces killed two terrorists in counterterrorism operations in Nusaybin, a southeastern town, on Saturday. One of them was a senior militant who was behind a string of terror attacks in the country while Milliyet newspaper claimed the terrorist using the code name "Behzat," who ordered last Friday night's deadly attack targeting a housing complex in the city of Şanlıurfa that killed a boy and a security guard, was also killed.

Behzat, whose real name is Yaşar Uygur, was wanted for a PKK attack in the Mediterranean city of Antalya last year that killed a soldier, the killing of another soldier in Nusaybin in 2015, the November attack targeting the governorate in the southern city of Adana that killed two and a non-fatal attack targeting gendarmerie in the western city of Manisa in April 2016.

Security sources said the senior militant recruited members to the terrorist group in Mardin, where Nusaybin is located, and he was also charged with sending recruits to the western cities to carry out attacks.

It was not confirmed if Uygur was involved in Friday's attack near the lodgings of judges and prosecutors in Şanlıurfa's Viranşehir district. However, authorities have announced 26 people were detained in Mardin and Şanlıurfa following the attack where the 11-year-old son of a judiciary official was among the casualties.

The PKK, which started a campaign of violence in the early 1980s, faced a fresh crackdown last week.

A total of 834 people linked to the group and its affiliate the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) have been detained in counterterror operations in 37 cities.

A small number of weapons were seized in the operations against the group that has killed more than 1,200 people since it resumed its activities after a brief lull two years ago.

Police say the operations were carried out in response to PKK senior cadres' orders to militants to step up attacks in the so-called "spring offensive," which was expected to start later this month. The statement by police also said the PKK planned armed riots in cities similar to the ones in predominantly Kurdish southeastern cities a few years ago where the group's supporters took to the streets for pro-PKK rallies.

The PKK, which claims to fight for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey, has killed thousands of civilians in more than three decades of terror attacks. A 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. More than 4,000 security personnel and over 2,000 civilians have also been injured.

The group is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S., EU and Turkey, but its senior cadres have long managed to avoid capture by using the mountains in Turkey's southeast as cover as well as in areas of northern Iraq, where PKK leaders are believed to be currently hiding.

In counterterror operations, more than 10,000 PKK terrorists have been killed or apprehended after the terrorist group resumed its attacks in 2015. Approximately 5,500 weapons, 652,000 rounds of ammunition and more than 142 tons of explosives and 15,000 bombs have been seized.

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