2 ruling party officials killed by PKK

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Suspected Kurdish militants have killed two officials from Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish authorities say.

Orhan Mercan, the AKP’s deputy head in the Lice district of the southeastern Diyarbakir Province, died in hospital of wounds he sustained when shot in front of his home on Friday night, the provincial governor’s office said.

Additionally, the governor’s office of Van Province said that Aydin Ahi, deputy head of the AKP in the Ozalp neighborhood, had been killed on Saturday night.

Turkish security sources said the gunmen had seized Ahi from his home at gunpoint and killed him nearby.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the incidents, but AKP officials blamed the killings on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK. 

Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak tweeted that the PKK militants had killed the two men.

Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik said the attacks on the AKP officials were aimed at Turkey as a whole.

“These attacks were staged against the entire political institution, legitimacy, democracy, and our nation. The political institution is one of the most important pillars that our nation is based on. An attack on the political institution is an attack against the national entity,” he tweeted.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in a post on Twitter, “Such treacherous attacks will never disrupt our fight for freedom against terror organizations and their supporters in the region.”

Turkey has banned the PKK as a terrorist organization. The militant group has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984. The conflict has left more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, dead.

A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void by the militants in 2015 in the wake of a large-scale Turkish military campaign against the group. 

Turkish air force has been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.



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