PKK killed 15 Turkish Soldiers .Turkey may cross Iraq border.

October 8th, 2007  

Topic: PKK killed 15 Turkish Soldiers .Turkey may cross Iraq border.

Turkey vows determined fight against terror

The government yesterday met to discuss counterterrorism measures and a top-level meeting of the president, prime minister and chief of General Staff followed, as authorities rushed to discuss how to respond to a series of attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) over the past 24 hours that have left 15 soldiers dead in southeastern Anatolia.
The mother of Sgt. Bayram Güzel, 20, who was among the 13 soldiers killed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in an ambush in the eastern city of Şırnak late on Sunday, was devastated by news of her son's death.
"All necessary measures will be taken. All possibilities will be discussed," government spokesman Cemil Çiçek said after a Cabinet meeting prior to a security summit at the presidential palace attended by President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt. Çiçek said a separate counterterrorism meeting at the government level, headed by Prime Minister Erdoğan, will take place today (Tuesday morning).
A statement released after the nearly one-and-a-half-hour summit in the presidential palace vowed "determination" in the fight against terrorism and "strong measures" by the security forces, until the people's safety is fully ensured all across Turkey. It also called for concrete cooperation in the international arena to counter the threat of terror. Some 13 soldiers were killed in a PKK ambush on Sunday in the southeastern province of Şırnak. An operation to track down the terrorists was under way and troops shelled areas near the border to try to prevent them reaching their bases in northern Iraq, a statement from the military said. The military also shelled an area near Iraq to try to stop the terrorists from escaping across the border.
On Monday, another soldier was killed and three others injured when their vehicle hit a land mine believed to have been planted by the PKK near the town of Lice, Diyarbakır. Another soldier was killed in a separate explosion on a road in Şırnak. The attacks revived calls for cross-border measures into Iraq, where the PKK has bases. Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (PKK), said it was now a necessity to pursue terrorists across the border and into the Iraqi territory without having to get permission from the Iraqi authorities.

Another opposition leader, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Deniz Baykal, accused the government of lacking the political will to fight terrorism. “Unfortunately this government does not have that will and I have no trust that it can acquire it,” he told private NTV television in an interview. “We continue to pay for this absent will with more martyrs.”
Çiçek, responding to questions on prospects for a cross-border operation, said the threat of terrorism was a “complicated” issue and described expectations for resolving it with a single measure as “optimism.” He also dismissed accusations that the government lacks the will to fight terrorism: “We have no hesitation to take whatever measure is required. The issue is about whether a certain measure will produce the desired effect or not.”
The attacks in Şırnak and Diyarbakır came after Turkey and Iraq signed a counterterrorism agreement last month. The deal commits Iraq to take a number of measures to curb PKK presence in its territory, yet falls short of giving Turkey the right to pursue PKK terrorists across the border.
“We are not concerned with this issue because these clashes and shelling happened inside Turkish territories. This is a Turkish internal problem,” Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the government of Iraq’s Kurdish region, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press after Sunday’s attack.
Turkey has been pressing the United States and Iraq to eliminate the PKK presence in northern Iraq and has threatened in the past to take matters into its own hands and launch a cross-border offensive to hit PKK bases in northern Iraq.
Turkish pressure on the United States is expected to grow further after the latest attacks. Sources said the weapons used in the Sunday attack were once again US-made ones -- Bixi machine guns. Washington is investigating Turkish accusations that some US-made weapons were seized with PKK terrorists in recent security operations and US officials have suggested that illegal weapon smuggling into Iraq could lie behind the scandal.
Erdoğan, who is planning to visit the United States in the coming weeks for talks with President George W. Bush, is expected to once more voice Turkey’s concerns over PKK terrorism stemming from Iraq.
Call for broader strategy
The PKK’s southeast attacks came only days after 12 civilians were killed in the town of Beytüşşebap, again in Şırnak. The increasing violence led to renewed calls for a revised strategy that adds non-military measures to the existing military drive.
“Killing more terrorists apparently does not resolve the problem,” said Sedat Laçiner, director of the International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/USAK). “Nearly 25,000 terrorists have been killed since the PKK launched its bloody campaign in the 1980s. If today we are still where we started at, we have to revise our strategy.”
Laçiner is not the first to suggest a revised policy. On Friday Land Forces Commander Gen. İlker Başbuğ said Turkey had failed in preventing recruitment of members to the PKK over the last 23 years during which military carried out a fight against the terrorist group. “If we had succeeded, the issue should not have reached the current stage. There are many areas where we have to act,” he said. Retired Gen. Edip Başer, who was sacked from his post as Turkey’s special envoy in the fight against the PKK because of his public criticism of a Turkish-US mechanism of special envoys, also told Today’s Zaman that economic, financial and psychological aspects have been neglected in the fight against terrorism. He also cautioned that a cross-border operation would only deal a blow to the PKK, not end terrorism.

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