May 26, 2012

Gülen movement, AK Party and the police might be potential targets for PKK, says analyst

Fatma Dişli Zıbak

In recent days the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has launched several deadly attacks in various provinces across Turkey and kidnapped 10 people in a southeastern province, signaling an end to its winter hibernation, when it retreats to its hideouts due to poor weather conditions that make it difficult to stage attacks. Once winter ends the PKK typically springs back into action and begins staging attacks against mostly security targets in the East and Southeast.

A car bomb exploded on Friday near
the Pınarbaşı Police Department
in the central province of Kayseri,
killing a policeman and
leaving dozens injured. (Photo: AA)
On Friday two suspected PKK terrorists detonated a bomb inside their car outside police headquarters in the central province of Kayseri, killing one policeman and wounding at least 10 others. The deceased officer was identified as 38-year-old Ahmet Geben. The two terrorists were also killed in the attack. The incident took place at around 10 a.m. after two men in a vehicle evaded a police checkpoint on the Kahramanmaraş-Kayseri Highway and attempted to enter the Pınarbaşı Police Department building complex. Police opened fire on the vehicle as it passed the police headquarters in the town of Pınarbaşı, where the bomb was detonated, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin said. It was not immediately clear why police did not stop the car sooner, said Şahin, adding that investigators did not believe at that stage the target was the police station. “From what can be seen inside the vehicle there are two militant suicide bombers inside. They are of course in pieces and the car is destroyed. This is a sad event,” Şahin told reporters from the Aegean city of İzmir.

“We did not expect the terrorist organization to stop. We have seen how they continue to carry out crazy acts,” Şahin said, referring to the PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in the Southeast since 1984.

Şahin said at least 10 people had been wounded in the attack, some of them children. State-run broadcaster TRT Haber reported that security forces were hunting for a third militant who had managed to escape.

Television footage showed frantic scenes around the police station as fire engines and ambulances rushed to the scene.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Bombing attacks in Kayseri are almost unheard of, with most raids occurring further east in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.

Onder Aytac
Önder Aytaç, an associate professor and president of the Strategic Research and Development Studies Center (SARGEM), told Today’s Zaman the PKK was expected to increase its acts of terrorism during spring, following its accustomed pattern.

Aytaç warned of three groups in particular that he identifies as potential targets for the PKK: Justice and Development Party (AK Party) administrators, leading figures of the Gülen movement and police officials.

“The PKK might attack AK Party officials to convince the government to open dialogue between parties and jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan. It may attack the leading figures in the Hizmet movement [led by prominent Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen] because the movement diminishes public support for the PKK in the nation’s southeast by preventing youth from going to the mountains [to join the PKK] and promoting education, also causing the PKK financial problems. Lastly, it may target police [as in the attack in Kayseri] due to successful police operations against Ergenekon, a shadowy criminal network with alleged links to the state suspected of plotting to topple the government, and the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization allegedly encompassing the PKK,” Aytaç explained. Speaking hours after the blast, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to continue fighting the PKK.

“The fight against the separatist terror organization will continue with determination, as it has until now. I wish restored health to those who are wounded, and God’s mercy for our martyrs,” he told reporters in Ankara.

AK Party deputy group chairman Mustafa Elitaş also said on Friday that Parliament needs to redouble its efforts to eradicate sources that nourish and support terrorism, while offering his condolences to the family of the slain policeman in Kayseri.

In another incident 10 people, including one woman, were kidnapped by PKK terrorists in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır this week, government sources said on Friday.

Diyarbakır Governor Mustafa Toprak released a written statement on Friday declaring that a group of PKK terrorists had abducted 10 villagers, one of them female, in the Lice district of Diyarbakır on Wednesday. According to the statement an investigation has been launched into the incident.

On Thursday three members of the PKK were killed in conflicts with security forces during day-long clashes in the southeastern province of Muş, the Muş province governor has said.

Muş Governor Ali Çınar told the state-run Anatolia news agency on Thursday that Cobra helicopters and tanks attacked a group of suspected PKK members, killing three of them, in the Varto district of Muş. Çınar added that a military operation in the region had begun on Thursday morning with clashes continuing into the night.

Additionally, there was a PKK mortar attack on a military outpost in the Çukurca district of Hakkari on Thursday, Hakkari Deputy Governor Önder Bozkurt has said.

Bozkurt said the PKK did not manage to hit the Serbestan Gendarmerie Military Outpost and there was no material damage and no casualties. He said an extensive military operation was launched in the region to capture the PKK terrorists. A statement released by the Hakkari governor’s office on Friday noted that a large quantity of ammunition belonging to the PKK was located during searches of the hideouts of the terrorist organization in the Keçili Deresi region.

Mesut Ülker, president of the Hazar Strategic Researches Institute, who commented on the escalating PKK acts of terrorism, said on Friday that the intention of these attacks, which he said were expected to increase over the spring period, is to sabotage Turkey’s efforts to prepare a new Constitution and to blight the atmosphere of peace and economic stability in the country. “Turkey should continue negotiations with [pro-Kurdish politicians] and fight against the PKK at the same time for resolution,” he told Today’s Zaman.

Meanwhile, on Friday İstanbul counterterrorism units seized two bombs and a long-barreled firearm in a raid on a house in Çekmeköy neighborhood of İstanbul as part of an investigation into the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party (DHKPC).

Published on Today's Zaman, 25 May 2012, Friday