Felat Bozarslan - Ahmet Ün / Diyarbakır, July 27 () - Two Turkish soldiers have been killed and four others have been injured in a car bomb attack in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır as retaliatory operations on Turkish security personnel have left deaths and injuries across the country amid cross-border airstrikes in Syria and northern Iraq.
Two gendarmerie sergeants, İsmail Yavuz, 37, and Mehmet Koçak, 39, were killed and four other soldiers were injured in a car bomb attack on their convoy in Diyarbakır’s Lice district on late July 25, a move that came as the Turkish Armed Forces carried out airstrikes against Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) camps in northern Iraq.
Annual leaves of all military personnel from Turkish Armed Forces’ units dealing with terrorism have been canceled by the Turkish General Staff, daily Hürriyet reported on July 26, a move that came following increasing violent acts, including attacks on security personnel, across Turkey as well as rising tensions near and on the Turkish-Syrian border.
In a recent offensive against Turkish security forces, two unidentified gunmen opened fire at three police officers on daily patrol in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı neighborhood on July 25, wounding three police officers and a civilian.
In another armed attack, gunmen opened fire at a police station in Diyarbakır’s Bağlar district around 11 p.m. on July 25, with no casualties reported. The Diyarbakır Police Department said in a written statement that a comprehensive operation had been launched to detain the perpetrators.
The car bomb attack on Turkish soldiers came a day after Turkey late July 24 carried out airstrikes targeting the PKK in northern Iraq, killing commander Şervan Varto (Önder Arslan), in a move that drew stern reaction from the PKK.
The PKK said on July 25 that there was no longer any cease-fire between the Turkish government and the PKK. “The conditions are no longer in place to observe a cease-fire, following the heaviest Turkish airstrikes on our positions in northern Iraq since 2011.”
The PKK, who until now have largely observed a cease-fire since 2013, outraged the government by claiming responsibility for the July 22 shooting of two Turkish police at home while they slept.
The group issued a statement after the officers’ killings, saying they had been punished for aiding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The increased PKK activity also followed an ISIL attack on a socialist youth group in Suruç that killed 31 people on July 20, with the group accusing the jihadists and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of acting in concert.
The killings were followed by kidnappings and attacks by the PKK in the past couple of days.
PKK militants bombed a police headquarters in Diyarbakır late July 24, injuring seven police officers.
On the same day, they also temporarily detained a policeman on the highway between Diyarbakır and Bingöl, as well as three health officers in Erzurum. The policeman and three health officers were later released.
The PKK also raided a construction site in Şırnak on July 25, destroying the vehicles and briefly taking 15 workers into custody.
Before the Turkish government launched the now-stalled peace bid, the PKK had routinely detained Turkish civil servants, workers and soldiers in the country’s southeast.