A PKK-linked group claimed responsibility Monday for various arson attacks throughout Turkey, particularly in Istanbul and İzmir, that took place within the last two months.
Under the name of the People's United Revolution Movement, a group was established as a side-wing of the PKK with the aim of overthrowing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan back in 2016. The terrorist group claimed that they were behind arson attacks that took place in nine provinces of the country, mostly against shops and factories. Among the arson attacks the PKK claimed were one at a factory in Istanbul's Pendik district on Sept. 6 and another at a factory in Sultanbeyli district on the same day. The fires caused major damage to both factories. The reason why the terrorist group felt the need to make a statement on the issue, however, was the fact that other groups were also claiming that they were behind the attacks. That is to say, the conflict between different terrorist groups forceed the PKK to claim the attacks.
The statement released lists the attacks and shows that since July 1, the terrorist group has been behind almost 20 arson attacks.
Using the arson attacks as a terrorism tool is neither a new phenomenon for the PKK nor is the statement the only one the terrorist group released this summer. Recently, another group thought to be affiliated with the PKK terrorist group claimed responsibility for recent wildfires in Turkey's western, northwestern and southern provinces, declaring "fiery revenge" against the state.
In a written statement published on a pro-PKK website, a group calling itself the "Children of the Fire Initiative" took responsibility for starting 27 separate fires in western metropolitan cities between July 11 and Aug. 24, including the one in western Izmir province, which affected more than 500 hectares of forest in the Karabağlar, Menderes and Seferihisar districts.
The PKK-linked group said they razed forests in western cities as an act of revenge and further claimed that they will continue to set fire to other green areas and land "until a "free autonomous Kurdistan" is established.
The group also said the recent trustee appointments to the three predominantly Kurdish cities in southeastern Turkey was one of the reasons for committing such acts of revenge.
The mayors of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin metropolitan municipalities from the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) were dismissed last week by the Interior Ministry over terrorism charges.
There has been no official confirmation from Ankara or local authorities that the widespread wildfires were related to terrorism. However, it was not entirely ruled out that the cause of the fires could be related to sabotage or arson. Formed in 1978, the PKK – recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU – has been waging violent attacks against the state and citizens since 1984, during which nearly 40,000 people have been killed. In addition to suicide bombings, deadly ambushes and massacres against civilians, the PKK either claimed or was accused of starting many forest fires in the past.