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Kurdish rebels suspend attacks ahead of Turkey polls

October 10, 2015

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has declared a "state of inactivity" after months of attacks in Turkey. The organization cited the upcoming November election as the reason for suspending all offensive actions.

PKK parade
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/T. Rassloff

The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella movement that includes the controversial Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), said in a statement Saturday that the PKK would only continue with defensive action - if necessary - until Turkey's November 1 election.

"Heeding calls from Turkey and abroad, our movement has decided on a state of inactivity by our guerillas, unless our people and our guerilla forces are attacked," the statement read.

"During this process, our guerilla forces will refrain from carrying out planned activities, will not engage in any kind of activity apart from preserving its current position and make no attempts to hinder or harm the exercise of a fair and equal election."

However, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan announced earlier this week that Turkish security forces would continue with their ongoing military campaign in Southeast Anatolia even if the PKK actually pre-empted any kind of ceasefire.

Political publicity stunt?

There had already been suggestions that the PKK was about to announce a new ceasefire to help the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP) boost its score in upcoming polls. The HDP broke the 10 percent barrier to enter parliament after elections held earlier this year, and said it hoped to improve on its previous performance.

A new election was called for November after none of the four parties in parliament managed to form a coalition government.

Erdogan implicates PKK in Ankara bombing

The PKK announcement came after twin explosions hit Turkey's capital, Ankara, earlier on Saturday, killing at least 86 people. The crowd had gathered for a peace rally organized by leftist and pro-Kurdish opposition groups.

It was not immediately clear if there was any connection in the timing of the PKK statement, which did not reference the attack. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised a swift investigation into the "terror attack."

"I deeply denounce this abhorrent attack, which was directed against the unity, solidarity and peace of our country," Erdogan said while directly referencing recent PKK attacks in the same context.

A summer of violence

Since late July, PKK rebels have staged almost daily attacks against members of Turkey's security forces following the end of a two-year truce. Insurgents managed to kill more than 140 Turkish police and soldiers in that period alone.

The government, for its part, has claimed to have killed more than 1,700 Kurdish militants in a relentless bombing campaign against the group.

Over 40,000 people have been killed in total since the PKK took up arms in 1984, demanding an independent state for Kurds. But the group has since narrowed its demands to greater autonomy and cultural rights. Both the European Union and the United States classify the PKK as a terrorist organization.

ss/cmk (AFP, Reuters, dpa)