The rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) said Thursday that it had torn up a unilateral truce in Turkey after a surge in deadly violence since the country’s weekend election.
Its announcement comes after several days of Turkish air raids against the PKK in both southeastern Turkey and across the border in northern Iraq and a spate of deadly clashes.
“The unilateral state of inaction has ended due to the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government’s latest attacks,” the PKK said in a statement carried by the pro-Kurdish news agency Firat.
“After the election, the AKP has demonstrated it is going to be a war government,” said the PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had vowed on Wednesday that Ankara would press ahead with its military campaign against the rebels in a conflict that has plagued Turkey for more than three decades.
About 45,000 people have been killed since the PKK launched an armed campaign for greater autonomy in southeastern Turkey in 1984.
Violence flared up in July between the guerrillas and government forces after a deadly bombing against activists in a Kurdish majority town, shattering a 2013 ceasefire reached after secret talks between Ankara and the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The PKK had however said after the devastating suicide bombings on a pro-Kurdish peace rally in Ankara last month that it would suspend all attacks, except in self-defence — a move seen as aiming to ease tensions ahead of last Sunday’s poll.
Emboldened by its surprise election victory, the has since gone on the offensive against both the Kurdish rebels and opponents of , including critical media.
– ‘Keep on fighting’ –
“The operations against the terrorist organisation inside and outside the country are continuing in a determined fashion,” Erdogan said on Wednesday.
“There will be no break. We will keep on,” he said in his first major policy speech since the AKP’s win, which was also a major personal victory for the man who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade.
“We will keep on fighting until the terrorist organisation buries their weapons under concrete and its members surrender and leave the country.”
Turkish war planes pounded PKK targets in the southeastern Kurdish-majority town of Yuksekova on Wednesday, the army said, the third straight day of air strikes since the vote.
The military said 31 Kurdish militants were killed in the raids, but the figures could not be independently verified.
One Turkish policeman was also killed in clashes with PKK fighters on Thursday in Silvan, another southeastern town, where a curfew was declared this week, security sources told AFP.
Another four militants were killed in clashes with Turkish security forces in the southeast this week.
The PKK’s executive committee (KCK) called on the Kurdish people to step up the struggle “against AKP fascism” and vowed to resist every attack targeting the group.
“We have always made it clear that we are ready for a bilateral ceasefire,” Thursday’s statement said.
“But it’s not possible to maintain a state of in action in the face of the AKP’s current policies.”
The resumption of hostilities in July and a spate of attacks blamed on jihadists from the Islamic State group, were seen as key to the election victory of the AKP, which said during the campaign it was the only party that could restore security.
Voters deserted the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in droves in the election, although they were able to scrape together enough votes to remain in parliament.
In a historic breakthrough, the HDP had become the first party representing Turkey’s estimated 15-20 million Kurds to enter parliament in the June election that had seen the AKP stripped of its majority.