Turks and Kurdish rebels clash

On Saturday 19 June, Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey attacked a military post in a far eastern town, killing 8 soldiers and wounding at least 14. In response, Turkish warplanes pounded the border region, which in summer is often populated by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. At least 12 Kurdish militants were killed in a land and air operation around Hakkari, and inside northern Iraq, according to a statement from the military.

The New York Times reports that, according to the military, tensions have been escalating along Turkey’s border with Iraq. This escalation may be due to the dissatisfaction of Turkey’s Kurdish population (more than 12 million on a total of 70 million inhabitants) towards the government. Although the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party have initiated further democratic and cultural rights for Turkey’s Kurdish population, they have dismissed some of their demands, like constitutional recognition of their ethnic identity and a general amnesty for the militants.

Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, however, disputed such claims, arguing that attacks are rather an effort by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and arms lobbies to derail his government’s democratization efforts.

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