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PKK denies role in Istanbul bombing, extends cease-fire

02 November 2010 [10:55] - TODAY.AZ
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has denied any connection with Sunday’s suicide bombing in central Istanbul while announcing that it has extended its unilateral cease-fire until next year’s general elections.

The bomb targeting police forces in Istanbul’s Taksim Square injured 32 people and occurred the day the PKK’s cease-fire was set to expire, sparking speculation that the group might have been behind the attack.

The Fırat news agency, which has links to the outlawed group, reported Monday that the PKK had extended its cease-fire until the general elections, expected to be held in June.

“Our movement... has decided to extend the non-action process until the 2011 general elections in order to impose a democratic solution process [on Ankara] and ensure that the parliamentary elections in Turkey take place in a healthy environment,” said the statement conveyed by the Fırat news agency. The statement came after a visit by pro-Kurdish figure Aysel Tuğluk to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in an attempt to prolong the cease-fire.

The news agency also reported that PKK leadership had denied responsibility for the Taksim Square blast, which took place just days after PKK leader Murat Karayılan had told daily Radikal in an interview that the group would no longer target civilians and would extend the cease-fire if the government demonstrated a commitment to engage in dialogue.

“It is not possible for us to carry out such an action at a time when our movement has decided to extend a truce process... We are in no way involved in this attack,” the PKK statement read.

“Whoever carried this [act out], it is an act of provocation,” pro-Kurdish figure Ahmet Türk said, claiming that the bombing was carried out in an attempt to disrupt the process of reaching a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.

The extension of the cease-fire was not the result of bargaining between the PKK and the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, as both the opposition and the PKK have clamed, AKP deputy leader Ömer Çelik told the private channel NTV on Monday.

“Those who come up with such claims are likely to lose their democratic legitimacy,” Çelik said. “The accuracy of the government’s methods against terror can’t be measured by the cease-fire.”

No organization has yet claimed responsibility for the Taksim attack and officials have only said it is still being investigated.

“We have findings... We have information... But we will make a statement once we are sure and after various dimensions [of the attack] have been evaluated,” Interior Minister Beşir Atalay told reporters in Istanbul.

Ertuğrul Mavioğlu from daily Radikal, who interviewed Karayılan last week, discussed two different potential scenarios in his analysis in Monday’s paper. According to Mavioğlu, Karayılan would not have allowed the attack following his statement about not targeting civilians and ahead of the meeting Monday between Öcalan and Tuğluk. Mavioğlu also wrote that the PKK has not carried out suicide attacks for many years and ruled out the argument that a sub-group carried out the attack on its own, since Karayılan said he had absolute control over the organization.

Some cells of the PKK in Turkey are believed to operate with considerable autonomy from their leadership located in northern Iraq.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

“If we remember the attack in Bingöl in which 33 soldiers were killed, the attack in Reşadiye and the bombing in front of a Diyarbakır private school, in which civilians were killed, the PKK at first denied any of those were their actions. Then they had to admit that some groups in the PKK had carried out the attacks,” Hüseyin Yayman, an expert from the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research, or SETA, told the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review on Monday.

“It won’t be a surprise if the same happens with the Taksim attack,” he said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that some European countries were not doing enough to help Turkey fight terrorism, claiming that “organizations with known ties to the [PKK] freely operate under the guise of associations, foundations or the media.”

Turkey has recently taken steps to improve the rights of its Kurdish population, allowing Kurdish-language television broadcasts and increasing contacts with pro-Kurdish politicians.

/Hurriyet Daily News/

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