Nine soldiers were killed in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır’s Lice district yesterday morning when the vehicle they were traveling in detonated a roadside bomb.
The bomb exploded as a U.S. made armored personnel carrier was traveling along the road, accompanied by a tank, to provide security to a larger military convoy. "Our guess at the moment is that it was a homemade bomb of very powerful explosives," Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ told reporters at the beginning of his press meeting yesterday. "Most probably, it was remote-controlled or detonated by cable," he said. Two specialized sergeants and seven privates died in the explosion, while there were also others injured, Doğan news agency reported.
The vehicle had four-centimeter thick armor plating, according to Başbuğ, indicating the strength of the explosion. "As the vehicle was so heavily damaged, the case will be examined and the public will be informed," he said.
Başbuğ implicated and several media reports prior to his briefing blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, for the explosion. Recalling that Turkey, under the current circumstances, could face similar terrorist attacks in the future, Başbuğ said: "The one thing we should avoid is pessimism." A widespread military operation in the region was initiated after the explosion.
The general called on the government to amend a penal code article, known as the Penitence Law, which allows for outright pardons and reduced sentences for terrorists in order to encourage them to give up arms.
"The article is good, but it must be made more attractive," Başbuğ said, calling on the government to also take social measures, such as establishing special centers to rehabilitate repentant terrorists. Başbuğ said 1,238 PKK members had surrendered to security forces and benefited from the penal code article in recent years.
Başbuğ, upon a question on the decision of the military top brass not to visit Parliament, said: "It’s not possible for us to be with them in the same place unless this party clears its ties with the terrorist organization and its views on it," he said. The top general was implicitly referring to the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or the DTP, which has so far failed to distance itself from the PKK.
One more soldier killed
One more soldier has been killed after a clash with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, militants in the southeastern province of Hakkari’s Şemdinli district yesterday afternoon. The militants opened fire on a military unit injuring the soldier. Taken to nearby Hakkari State Hospital by helicopter, the soldier later died.