25 killed; Erdogan vows to annihilate Kurd militants

Updated 17 December 2015

25 killed; Erdogan vows to annihilate Kurd militants

DIYARBAKIR: Gunfire clattered constantly and smoke rose on Thursday from two towns in southeast Turkey and President Tayyip Erdogan said Kurdish militants would be “annihilated” in an intensifying urban battle that has killed 25 Kurdish militants in two days.
The PKK’s three-decades-old insurgency flared up again in July after the collapse of a two-year cease-fire, plunging Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast back into open conflict.
Although traditionally rooted in the countryside, the PKK has shifted its focus in recent years to towns and cities in the southeast. The Ankara government has responded by cracking down with operations in border towns such as Cizre and Silopi, both of which were placed under curfew on Monday.
Erdogan said the operations would continue until the area was “cleansed” of the militants and their barricades and trenches destroyed.
“You will be annihilated in those houses, those buildings, those ditches which you have dug,” he told a crowd in Konya. “Our security forces will continue this fight until it has been completely cleansed and a peaceful atmosphere established.”
Ferhat Encu, a local deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said the curfews there had “mutated into a process of destroying the towns,” forcing people to flee. “The untargeted attacks and shelling by security forces amount to an all-out attack on the Kurdish people by a government which wants to blockade neighborhoods,” he said in a text of parliamentary questions to the interior minister.
The two towns, in Sirnak province near the Syrian and Iraqi borders, became central targets for Turkey’s latest anti-PKK operations in which Turkey’s media says 10,000 police and troops, backed by tanks, are taking part.
Twenty-four PKK militants were killed in Cizre and one in Silopi in the latest operations, the Turkish military said in a statement. Eight members of the security forces suffered wounds that were not life threatening.
Machinegun bursts echoed across Cizre on Thursday and smoke funneled up from the town, overlooked by armored vehicles parked on hills, after a spate of blasts and shooting overnight, with tracer fire lighting up the sky.
“Through resistance we will win!” Kurds could be heard chanting in Cizre, while others shouted, whistled and banged saucepans and children kicked store shutters in the darkened streets in a protest against the security operations. Witnesses said there were similar scenes in Silopi.
Hospital sources said a 45-year-old mother of four, named as Hediye Sen, was killed during clashes in Cizre while a 70-year-old died of a heart attack during fighting in Silopi.
Witnesses said the towns’ streets were largely empty and stores closed on Thursday and the Sirnak governor’s office said security forces continued to dismantle barricades, fill ditches and remove explosive devices planted by the PKK.
In the region’s largest city, Diyarbakir, two policemen were wounded in clashes in the historic district of Sur, security sources said. Elsewhere in the city, militants threw handmade explosives under an armored police truck, triggering a brief clash between police and fleeing assailants.


Israeli jets strike Hamas targets in Gaza: military

Updated 12 min 39 sec ago

Israeli jets strike Hamas targets in Gaza: military

  • Israeli fighter jets carried out strikes on Hamas facilities in Gaza

JERUSALEM: Israeli fighter jets carried out strikes on Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip after a “rocket” was fired from the Hamas-controlled enclave toward the Jewish state, its military said Monday.
Israel said Sunday night a “projectile” fired from Gaza had been intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
It was the first to be fired from the Palestinian coastal enclave since the first week of July, and set off sirens, the Israeli army said.
In response, “our fighter jets and & aircraft just struck subterranean Hamas terror facilities in Gaza,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the regional council of Shaar Hanegev, the area where the sirens sounded, said the projectile launched from Gaza had not caused any damage or casualties.
Israel and Islamist movement Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
Despite a truce in recent months, they have periodically exchanged fire, with militants in the strip lobbing rockets into Israel and the Jewish state responding with strikes against targets inside Gaza.