Turkey’s Prime Minister apparently forgot his own famous speech he gave in response to the events on the Gaza flotilla in which he accused the Israeli government of breaking the commandment “Thou shalt not murder.” Yesterday (Saturday), after armed Kurds killed 11 Turkish soldiers, Regep Tayyep Erdogan vowed to “wipe out” the Kurdish underground to utter destruction.
That last few months have seen an escalation in the armed struggle between the Turkish army and the underground Kurdish activists in northern Iraq. This weekend, an army official announced that more than a 100 armed Kurds have been killed in Iraq in targeted air strikes last month, including 43 soldiers.
The response was not late in coming: Yesterday, members of the Kurdish underground attacked a Turkish military outpost on the Iraqi border and killed 9 soldiers with an explosive device. An air force attack helicopter that was called to the area killed twelve members of the team. Later, two additional soldiers were killed after they stepped on a mine when chasing after the rebels.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Ankara sent a condolence letter to the commander of the Army, in which Erdogan promised that Turkey was ready to “pay the price” in order to “destroy” the rebel movement. Erdogan condemned the attack on the military outpost, saying it was “cowardly”. He claims the incident will not have any influence on the government’s determination to fight the rebels “to the finish.”
“Our operations will continue and will be dragged inside all of Turkey’s cities if the government keeps attacking us,” said rebel spokesman Ahmad Denis. “Turkey is interested in dragging us to war. Her efforts to contend with the Kurdish issue are not serious, and she is not interested in dealing with the matter peacefully.”
The rebels’ organization the “Kurdistan Worker’s Party” (PKK) is part of the United States’ and European Union’s list of terrorist organizations. Turkey claims that the underground is responsible for the deaths of close to 40,000 people since it began its armed campaign against Turkey for a homeland for the Kurdish minority in 1984.