x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Turkish president denounces attack that killed 10

Ten police officers and soldiers were killed by Kurdish militants in assault near Iraqi border.

ANKARA // Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul, yesterday condemned the "separatist terrorist organisation" for an attack by Kurdish militants that killed 10 police officers and soldiers in Sirnak province.

The assault, near the Iraqi border, came amid concern that rebels were seeking to capitalise on regional tensions caused by Syria's civil war by launching a more intense campaign of attacks in Turkey.

"The internal and external supporters of this shameful game will sooner or later understand that they have made a wrongful calculation and will be punished," said Mr Gul. "It should not be forgotten that those who believe that a timely opportunity has arisen will soon realise their great historic mistake and will be disappointed."

The attack happened late on Sunday in south-eastern Sirnak province, a traditional area for militants who have bases in northern Iraq. An undetermined number of Kurdish guerrillas were also killed.

The rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, has benefited from past upheaval and power vacuums in the region, notably after the 1991 Gulf War and the fall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in a US-led invasion in 2003. Iraqi Kurds consolidated their own mini-state in northern Iraq, inspiring those Kurds in Turkey who want self-rule.

In Syria, regime forces locked in a civil war with opponents of the president, Bashar Al Assad, ceded control in some areas near the Turkish border to Kurdish fighters said to be linked to Turkey's Kurdish militants. Turkish analysts suspect the regime's seemingly passive conduct was aimed at stirring trouble for Turkey, which opposes Mr Al Assad, by providing additional space for the PKK to organise.

Video from Dogan News Agency yesterday showed Turkish security forces patrolling the town of Beytussebap, where militants had attacked police and military posts.

An official was seen removing weapons from the rucksack of what appears to be a slain guerrilla lying in a gutter. In another sequence, Kurdish townspeople shouted slogans in support of jailed rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan as armoured vehicles roll through the streets.

The PKK is conducting some of its most brazen operations since its 1990s heyday, though it is limited to hit-and-run tactics.