Kurdish guerrillas declare unilateral ceasefire

Promise to suspend attacks follows appeals by imprisoned rebel chief to stop targeting civilians.

September 30, 2006 16:19
1 minute read.
Kurdish guerrillas declare unilateral ceasefire

kurd leader 298 88. (photo credit: AP [file])

A Kurdish guerrilla group on Saturday declared a new unilateral cease-fire in its war for autonomy in Turkey's southeast, heeding a call from its imprisoned rebel leader, the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency said on its Web site. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said the cease-fire would go into effect on Sunday "in the hopes of starting a democratic process for the solution of the Kurdish problem," Firat reported. The group said its fighters will not use arms unless attacked by the Turkish army, Firat said. Turkey, however, is likely to press ahead with its military drive targeting the rebels. Ankara has ignored all previous cease-fires by the group, saying it does not negotiate with terrorists. Military commanders have vowed to fight until all rebels are killed or surrender. The cease-fire announcement comes three days after imprisoned rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan appealed to his guerrillas to declare a new cease-fire as rebel attacks targeting civilians and foreign tourists have drawn global criticism. On Saturday, a Turkish soldier was killed and another was injured when they stepped on a mine believed to have been planted by Kurdish guerrillas in southeastern Turkey, private Dogan news agency reported. The incident occurred in the Hakkari province, bordering Iran and Iraq, it said. A surge of rebel violence has killed more than a dozen soldiers and policemen in recent weeks and sparked widespread condemnation. Militants believed to be linked to the rebels have also bombed tourist resorts, killing three and injuring more than a dozen tourists. Ocalan's appeal follows US pledges of support in cracking down on the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the US and European Union. The rebel conflict has claimed the lives of 37,000 people since the guerrillas took up arms in 1984. Last year, the guerrilla group declared a cease-fire, but the truce lasted little more than a month. The rebels said the government failed to recognize their group and was maintaining its military drive against its members. The PKK's longest unilateral cease-fire was declared after Ocalan's capture in 1999 and lasted five years.

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