The Kurdish guerilla group PKK has said it's ready for a renewed ceasefire as national elections draw near. As deadly violence continues, the Turkish government has dismissed peace talks as "political tactics."
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is ready for a new ceasefire with the Turkish military after nearly three months of deadly fighting, a senior commander told the AFP news agency on Friday.
"We are ourselves ready for a ceasefire from right now," PKK commander Cemil Bayik told AFP in an interview from the outlawed group's headquarters in mountainous northern Iraq.
Earlier this week a senior PKK figure hinted in a pro-Kurdish opposition newspaper that a ceasefire would help the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which denied the ruling AKP of its single-party majority during elections in June.
The Turkish government has dismissed the talk of olive branches as campaign maneuvering.
"We have often seen the terror group resorting to such political tactics when it is cornered, heading to its winter shelters or to benefit its political extension," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan told the Haberturk TV channel on Thursday.
Akdogan reiterated that Ankara's demands remain the full disarmament of the PKK and that PKK fighters leave Turkish territory.
"You burn and destroy everything, you oppress and kill people, launch a war on the state ... then say you don't want election security to be negatively affected," Akdogan said.
Escalating violence in Turkey's southeast
Escalating violence between the PKK and the Turkish security forces reignited this summer, shattering a fragile peace process. Close to 150 police and soldiers and hundreds of PKK rebels have been killed in the fighting since July.
Turkish authorities accuse the PKK of being bloodthirsty "terrorists" who have killed scores of young police officers and soldiers simply because they are in uniform.
But the PKK's Bayik - speaking to AFP - said it was the Turkish government that renewed fighting after the ruling party suffered at the polls.
"All the guerilla movement is doing is to protect itself; it has still not entered into a war," Bayik said.
He said the Kurdish national movement had been boosted by its involvement in the fight against "Islamic State" jihadis in northern Syria and a military campaign backed by European and US airpower.
In Turkey's predominately ethnic Kurdish southeast, the Ankara has declared a series of curfews and military zones. But a bid to relocate polling stations away from conflict areas - potentially making it difficult for some voters to cast ballots - was rejected by Turkey's election board.
In the past, the PKK has announced a series of ceasefires including ahead of voting, often with a view to engaging in negotiations. Turkey's army does not declare ceasefires.
Designated a terror group by Turkey, the European Union and United States, the PKK launched an armed struggle in 1984. Some 40,000 people have been killed in the fight for language rights and autonomy.
jar/sms (AFP, Reuters)