13 terrorists killed while Turkey bids farewell to six slain officers

A funeral was held for slain officer Mustafa Erdoğan - - one of five officers who lost their lives in clashes with the PKK - - in his hometown of Yozgat. (Photo: AA)

March 23, 2012, Friday/ 17:36:00

As Turkey paid its final respects to five special ops police officers who were killed in clashes with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Şırnak on Wednesday, security units killed 13 PKK terrorists and lost one of their own in the third day of clashes with the PKK in a forest bordering Bitlis and Siirt on Friday.

Operations against the terrorists have been continuing in various parts of the Southeast. Security forces intensified their focus during the operations in the provinces of Siirt and Bitlis. A group of PKK terrorists were seen in Sehi Forest, which borders Siirt and Bitlis, on Friday. Security units called on the terrorist group to surrender; however, a clash ensued when the terrorists refused to surrender and instead opened fire on security units.

A village guard and a sergeant were wounded when the clashes first broke out. Special Ops squads of the Siirt 2nd Brigade Command launched a heavy attack on terrorist with the help of air units, who backed the special ops teams with Cobra helicopters. According to reports, at least five terrorists killed in Bitlis and two terrorists were killed in Siirt. Military officials state the operations against the PKK in the region will continue until the region is cleared of terrorists.

Meanwhile, Cobra attack helicopters targeted a group of 30-40 PKK fighters holed up on Cudi Mountain in Şırnak on Thursday. As the clashes between security forces and the PKK continued on Thursday, a PKK member was captured by troops that descended on the mountain from helicopters. There are reports that in addition to an officer killed, at least six special ops police officers were wounded in the battles, but further details about their identities have not been released. Prior to the operation, police forces asked the military to conduct air operations since the location of the terrorists was not suitable for a land operation.

Turkey has been conducting airstrikes on PKK camps in Iraq's northern mountains and inside Turkey since August of last year, following an increase in attacks on Turkish troops and civilians by the PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy for Turkey's largely Kurdish Southeast since 1984.

The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The group is labeled a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, which has supplied Predator drones to assist Turkey.

Turkey pays final respects to officers killed in Şırnak

Funerals were held in five provinces on Friday for the five special ops police officers who were killed in clashes with the PKK on Cudi Mountain on Wednesday.

In a statement released on Thursday, the National Police Department identified the slain soldiers and offered its condolences to the Turkish nation.

The bodies of the slain officers were sent to their hometowns on Thursday after an official funeral ceremony in Şırnak on Thursday. Further funeral ceremonies were held in Adana, Kahramanmaraş, İzmir, Antalya and Yozgat. The funeral prayers for the killed officers were held after the Friday prayer and attended by many statesmen and army officials.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek and President Abdullah Gül sent a letter of condolence to Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, strongly condemning the attacks on the special forces. In a statement released by his office on Wednesday, Erdoğan added that Turkey is determined to continue its fight against terrorism, which threatens the country's unity and the security of its citizens. Opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also offered his condolences to the families of the fallen police officers and wished a quick recovery for the injured soldiers, in a statement released on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the National Police Department sent an official letter to counterterrorism units across the country, calling on them to tighten security measures as the PKK has recently stepped up its campaign of violence. The letter warned the anti-terror units that PKK members are in preparation for simultaneous attacks, adding that their primary targets are security forces and buildings affiliated with the police department. The department also demanded security measures be tightened in public spaces such as metro stations, shopping centers and on public transport.

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