World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel said the military has stepped up operations to capture key leaders of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in an interview with a Turkish daily on Wednesday.
“They are well protected and they frequently change location. We are working to render them ineffective,” Özel told the Türkiye daily.
Özel said the PKK sees 2012 as its “final year” and it is exerting strong efforts and taking risks as part of this belief. “But they will not succeed in this,” he said, referring to the increasing number of PKK attacks in recent months. The military chief said 110 soldiers were killed between Jan. 1 and Sept. 24 in clashes with the PKK while 427 terrorists were killed by security forces. He said 117 terrorists surrendered to security forces during this period and 54 were captured alive.
Özel also said he sees recent police operations against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that encompasses the PKK, are a vital part of Turkey's counterterrorism efforts.
“Fighting with the collaborators of the terrorist organization is as important as fighting with terrorists. Capturing those who disseminate fear and violence in the region [Turkey's Southeast], who enlist members for the terrorist organization by force … and who provoke our people against the state is of vital importance for ensuring the continuity of our state and safety of our people,” Özel said.
The KCK is a political umbrella organization that includes the PKK. An investigation into the group began in December 2009. A large number of Kurdish politicians, including several mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), have also been arrested pending trial as part of the investigation.
During the interview, the military chief was also asked about recent claims that the trial of dozens of active duty military officers as part of ongoing investigations by civilian prosecutors will weaken counterterrorism efforts. Özel dismissed the claims, saying, “The trials would not affect our fight against terrorism.” “The situation of our personnel who are on trial worries us. But it is out of question that this would weaken our determination in the fight,” he said.
Özel added that the military takes necessary precautions to counter such possible weaknesses due to the imprisonment of dozens of high-ranking officers.
Dozens of active duty and retired members of the Turkish military are currently jailed as part of investigations in which they are accused of plotting to overthrow the democratically elected government. In a landmark ruling last week, an İstanbul court convicted 324 retired and active duty military officers of plotting to overthrow the government in a 2003 coup plot dubbed “Sledgehammer.” The court handed down 20 years for three former generals who were key suspects in the case.
Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim of unseating the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government through violent acts. According to the Sledgehammer plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through acts of violence, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul. The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government to lay the groundwork for a coup d'état. The military, which has overthrown three governments since 1960 and pressured a conservative government to step down in 1997, has denied the existence of such a plan.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says Turkey's domestic industry to gain US$16 billion dollars from two nuclear projects
PM says presidential August 10 polls are no longer controversial after Turkish people voted to choose president.
The group was kidnapped in the war-ridden country in June but released and entered Turkey earlier on Saturday
Sub-sea tunnel will connect Asian and European sides of the Bosphorus Strait, enabling a 15-minute crossing.
Social media company withholds accounts accused of violating personal rights and privacy days after meeting with Turkish authorities.
Emrullah Isler announces greater assistance to Albanian orphans in future and help to restore Ethem Bey mosque.
Babacan says both domestic and international perception problems need to be solved before turning into confidence problems
Turks will go to polls on August 10 to choose their new president. If no candidate receives the required 51 percent of the votes in the first round, a run-off will be held Aug. 24.
The shadowy network gained 5.5 million euros and 2.3 million dollars from illegal border crossing operations in the last four months
An unknown group rescued the journalist who had been held for 10 months by the ISIL rebel group in Syria, before brining them to Turkey.
Izmir municipal mayoral candidate for People's Democratic Party is among those arrested in the western Turkish province.
The trial on the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 resumed in a different court in Istanbul after the first closed under a new law.
Turkey's Prime Minister asked the Constitutional Court to ensure court rulings that remove social media content due to human rights violations are implemented.
HDP co-chairman Ertugrul Kurkcu said the deputies of both parties will be represented in parliament under the HDP soon.
Ahmet Davutoglu refuted Syrian President's claims that the war is turning in the regime's favor.
Kemerkoy and Yenikoy thermal power plants located in the south western province of Mugla are privatized for $2.6 billion.