Turkish gov’t says will launch own investigation into PKK’s attack

TODAYSZAMAN


Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ar?nç
The Turkish government has said it will launch its own investigation into the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Paty (PKK) attack in Silvan last week that left 13 soldiers and five PKK members dead.

Government spokesperson Bülent Ar?nç told reporters after a Cabinet meeting on Monday that the government has tasked the Interior Ministry with launching its own investigation into the attack. The General Staff has already started looking more closely into the deadly skirmish amid growing reports blaming the military for being unprepared for the attack.
Turkey’s General Staff said in a statement last Thursday that grenades thrown by the PKK ignited a fire in the heavily forested area where the clash occurred and that 13 soldiers died in the blaze. It also said seven soldiers were wounded.
The pro-Kurdish F?rat news agency disputed the official version of events with a report that quoted a witness saying a Turkish warplane had targeted the PKK members in an air strike, which also killed soldiers positioned nearby.Ar?nç, who is also a deputy prime minister, said Deputy Prime Minister Be?ir Atalay, Interior Minister ?dris Naim ?ahin and Defense Minister ?smet Y?lmaz briefed the Cabinet on the attack, adding that findings of the General Staff investigation will be later presented to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. Monday’s Cabinet meeting attracted much attention after the Silvan attack as the government shaped its policy on how to respond to the attack.
The Turkish government vowed last week to continue a process of reform and democratization, including working on the Kurdish initiative, despite the attack on soldiers, stressing its strong will to fight terrorism. “Turkey, without compromising democracy, the law or brotherhood, will tackle terrorism and the forces behind it. While the suffering of our soldiers pains our hearts, it also strengthens our resolve in the fight against terrorism,” Erdo?an said.

Security forces, backed by warplanes, launched a hunt for the PKK members in the mountains of Diyarbak?r province, and the operations continue in the region. Ar?nç also vowed that the government will stick to democratic reforms and will not abandon the democratic initiative, but added that his government’s determination to fight terrorism will continue unabated.

The Silvan attack was the worst clash since a PKK ambush in October 2007, which left 12 soldiers dead along the Turkish-Iraqi border and triggered a week-long air and ground assault in early 2008 on PKK bases in northern Iraq. That was the last major incursion by the Turkish military.

Turkish opposition parties have called on the government to launch a cross-border operation into northern Iraq in response to Thursday’s attack.

Ar?nç claimed such an operation would be possible whenever the government requests a parliamentary mandate that grants authority to the government to organize such an operation, but added that the cross-border operation was not on the government’s agenda. Asked about deputy ministers, a post the government created before the June 12 parliamentary elections, Ar?nç said the process of selecting deputy ministers for the 21 newly appointed state ministers continues and that they will be presented to the Prime Ministry for approval. Ar?nç also said the government was completing a “routine assessment” of the situation of Turkey’s European Union membership talks.


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