Published by Rudaw, 10th January, 2016
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey said it had killed 12 PKK fighters in a raid Sunday in the Kurdish city of Van, but Kurdish groups insisted the Special Operations Forces had stormed a home and massacred civilians.
The pro-Ankara Daily Sabah said “a police officer has been killed and two others have been wounded during an anti-terror operation against the PKK in eastern Van province on Sunday, where 12 terrorists were killed.”
It quoted Van Governor Ibrahim Tasyapan as saying that the operation against the PKK – or Kurdistan Workers’ Party — took place around dawn.
“The police was tracking the group, but we also received related notices from our citizens,” he said, revealing that two special-forces troops were slightly wounded in the operation.
“Sources added that 30 grenades, 12 long-barreled weapons and a machine gun were seized during a search of the premises,” the Daily Sabah website reported.
But the pro-Kurdish Firat News Agency (ANF), meanwhile, said that the home had been occupied by young Kurds “dressed in civilian clothes.”
The agency cited an official from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) as saying the incident amounts to a “mass execution.”
“They are all young people in civilian clothes, as has been conveyed to us by those who saw the bodies, ANF quoted HDP official Tugba Hezer as saying. “This is a mass execution.”
Video footage released by the Dogan News Agency showed what it said was the aftermath of the raid in Van, with bodies lying in the snow.
According to reports the slain were aged between 18 and 25.
Other reports released by the HDP and the Turkish Human Rights Organization claim that more than 160 civilians — excluding the Van victims – have been killed in the fallout of clashes and curfews by Turkish authorities in the country’s Kurdish southeast, particularly over the past month.
Fighting between the PKK and the Turkish government resumed in late July, after the government did badly at the polls and began an abrupt crackdown on the PKK.
The renewed fighting shattered a slow-moving peace process that had been two years in the making and which was meant to end Turkey’s three decade Kurdish conflict, in which 40,000 have died.