PKK kills 16 Turkish soldiers in ambush

By bne IntelliNews September 7, 2015

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Sixteen Turkish soldiers were killed in an ambush by PKK militants in the southeastern province of Daglica on September 6, in the deadliest attack by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party since the ceasefire collapsed in July. The Turkish military responded with airstrikes on PKK targets.

A wave of PKK assaults in the Kurdish-populated southeast has already killed more than 70 security personnel, while the government claims thousands of PKK militants have been killed in the clashes and airstrikes.

The Daglica attack marks a further deterioration in the security situation in the region ahead of the November polls, with both sides blaming the other for the collapse of the ceasefire. Curfews have been imposed in several towns and the government has declared what it calls temporary security zones over hundreds of districts in the country’s east and southeast.

Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the main Kurdish party HDP, recently voiced serious concerns about the current situation. The necessary conditions do not exist to hold the elections in Turkey’s southeastern provinces because of violence between the security forces and the PKK, said Demirtas.

PKK militants ambushed a convoy of armoured vehicles in Daglica, close to Turkey’s border with Iraq on September 6, local media reported. There was no official confirmation of the casualties, but pro-government newspaper Sabah reported that 15 soldiers, including two high-ranking officers, were killed in the attack.

In a sign of the gravity of the Daglica attack, PM Ahmet Davutoglu, who was watching the national football team’s game in the city of Konya, left the stadium and immediately called for an emergency security meeting. Confirming the Daglica attack on a televised interview, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the fight against the PKK would continue.

Critics accuse the AKP government and Erdogan of renewing clashes with the PKK to discredit the main Kurdish party HDP which cleared the 10% threshold in the June elections to enter parliament, depriving the AKP of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002. But, the government and Erdogan deny these accusations.

More than 40,000 people have died since the PKK launched its armed struggle against the Turkish state in 1984.

The Turkish lira depreciated to a record low of 3.0030 against the dollar, falling 1.29% d/d early Monday on the news. The lira, one of the worst performing emerging market currencies this year, has lost more than 20% of its value against the dollar. The Daglica attack is also likely to hit Turkish stocks on Monday.

Consumer and business confidence have suffered from multiple factors, including the political vacuum, the flare up in violence with the Kurdish insurgents, as well as geopolitical risks. Consumer confidence hit its lowest in more than six years in August, while the real sector confidence index declined from 105.4 in July to 103.7 in August.

Turkey is in uncharted waters amid a combination of political uncertainty, deteriorating economic indicators, volatile local financial markets and the global rise in interest rates, warned Morgan Stanley, in a report published on August 31.


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