First Published: 2016-03-15

Kurdish leader warns Turkey of PKK 'vengeance'
Rebel leader says 'anything our guerrillas do will be legitimate,' as Turkey reels from Sunday bombing in Ankara.
Middle East Online

Expect fighting 'everywhere'

QANDIL (Iraq) - Kurdish rebel leader Cemil Bayik warned Turkey to expect payback for the deadly clashes that have raged following the collapse of a fragile truce, in an interview published in Britain's Times daily Tuesday.

Bayik, one of the leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), said to expect fighting "everywhere" and insisted its guerillas were justified in taking any course of action.

"The Turks looted and burnt everything they could in the Kurdish cities on which curfews were imposed," the 65-year-old in an interview The Times said took place a few days ago in the Qandil Mountains.

"So now our people are full of feelings of vengeance, calling on our guerrillas to avenge them. This is a new era of the people's struggle."

The shaky truce between Turkey and Kurdish autonomists collapsed last July, and hundreds of people have since lost their lives.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday that the evidence so far pointed to Kurdish rebels being behind a suicide car bombing in Ankara on Sunday that killed 37 people, although nobody has taken responsibility.

"At this moment in the struggle, anything our guerrillas are ordered to do will be legitimate," said Bayik, speaking before the bombing.

"Until recently the war with the Turkish army occurred just in the mountains. Then it moved to towns and cities. Now there will be fighting everywhere," he added.

The rebel leader said that relations with Turkey were at their lowest ebb in the PKK's 32-year history and that the party was locked in a battle for survival with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Our fight is now existential: to be or not to be," he said. "If Erdogan defeats us, then he can defeat everyone in Turkey who wants democracy, so our main aim now is the fall of Erdogan."

The PKK, which launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, is fighting for greater autonomy and rights for the country's largest ethnic minority.

The PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.

 

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