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kurdish rebels

Kurdish rebels’ leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is now jailed in Turkey, has called for a truce after 30 years of war.

Abdullah Ocalan also urged his fighters to withdraw from Turkey, in a message read out to cheers during Kurdish New Year celebrations in the city of Diyarbakir.

The Turkish government cautiously welcomed the call, which follows months of talks between the PKK and Turkey.

More than 40,000 people have died in the 30-year fight for an ethnic Kurdish homeland in Turkey’s south-east.

Hundreds of thousands of people were present in Diyarbarkir to hear Abdullah Ocalan’s message.

“The language spoken is that of peace. We should see the implementation,” Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler told the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Several previous ceasefire attempts between the two sides have failed.

However, the announcement is potentially an important step towards ending the 30-year long conflict between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish state.

This time, Abdullah Ocalan and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan – the two key figures involved – are talking via intermediaries. But the real test of the announcement will be in its implementation.

Abdullah Ocalan is still the final decision-maker among the Kurds, despite the 14 years he has spent in jail. He is serving a life sentence for treason.

PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan calls for ceasefire after 30 years of war with Turkey

PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan calls for ceasefire after 30 years of war with Turkey

The announcement was read out in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in Kurdish and in Turkish.

“We have reached the point where weapons should be silent and ideas and politics should speak. A new phase in our struggle is beginning,” Abdullah Ocalan’s message said.

“Now a door is opening to a phase where we are moving from armed resistance to an era of democratic political struggle.

“Now it is time for our armed units to move across the border [to northern Iraq]. This is not an end but a new beginning. This is not abandoning the struggle, but a start to a different struggle.”

It is not immediately clear when this withdrawal will take place – or whether the PKK will ultimately choose to disarm.

Abdullah Ocalan had told Kurdish politicians who visited him earlier this week at his prison on the island of Imrali that his declaration would be “historic”.

In February the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) leader, who has been in Turkish custody since his capture in Kenya in 1999, called for prisoners to be released by both sides.

The PKK freed eight Turkish soldiers and officials it had held captive in northern Iraq for up to two years.

The PKK launched its armed campaign in 1984 and is regarded by Turkey, the US and EU as a terrorist organization. Last year saw some of the heaviest fighting in decades.

The organization rolled back on its demands for an independent Kurdish state in the 1990s, calling instead for more autonomy.

Reports say the PKK wish list now includes greater constitutional and linguistic rights for Kurds, as well as an easing of pressure on Kurdish activists.

The government has also not dismissed speculation that Abdullah Ocalan could be moved to house arrest.

On the eve of the truce call, Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned a number of blasts in the capital blamed on a left-wing group which opposes the talks with the PKK. He promised to push ahead with “extremely critical and sensitive” peace efforts, which have been going on since October.

Abdullah Demirbas, a district mayor in Diyarbakir, told Reuters news agency there would be more attempts to sabotage talks, but this was a last chance for peace.

“The PKK, Ocalan and the government must be brave… There is massive social support for this process.”

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Seventeen soldiers have been killed in a helicopter crash in Siirt province, southeast Turkey, officials have said.

The helicopter went down due to bad weather conditions in the Siirt province, according to local officials and state media.

Siirt Governor Ahmet Aydin also said the victims were members of Turkish special forces.

The Turkish military is active in the south-east, fighting Kurdish militants.

State-run television said the crash occurred in heavy fog in a mountainous area, but authorities are still investigating exactly what happened.

Kurdish rebels are active in the area, but there is no indication they were involved in the incident.


At least 19 people have died in southeast Turkey after Kurdish rebels launched an attack on a Turkish border post, according to local media.

Rebels fired rocket launchers on an army post in Hakkari province just after midnight, NTV in Turkey said.

Turkish military jets are pursuing them and bombing their escape routes, NTV said.

Several thousand Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels are believed to be based in hideouts in northern Iraq.

At least 19 people have died in southeast Turkey after Kurdish rebels launched an attack on a Turkish border post

At least 19 people have died in southeast Turkey after Kurdish rebels launched an attack on a Turkish border post

According to the governor for Hakkari province, Orhan Alimoglu, six soldiers, two village guards and 11 Kurdish rebels were killed in the attack near the village of Gecimili.

He said 15 soldiers were injured in the incident.

The number of clashes between the PKK and the Turkish armed forces has risen in southeast Turkey over the past year.

A series of clashes in June left dozens dead.

The PKK is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US.

It launched a guerrilla campaign in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in the Kurdish heartland in the south-east of Turkey.

It has now dropped its claim to an independent Kurdish state, but says it is fighting for autonomy and the cultural rights of the Kurdish people.