Residents flee Sirnak ahead of operation to flush out PKK terrorists
SIRNAK, Turkey – Terrorism in southeast Turkey has seen 50,000 people flee their homes in the city of Sirnak over the past week, a security source said Wednesday.
The flood of people leaving the provincial capital of around 63,000 came following the imposition of a round-the-clock curfew on Monday evening as security forces prepare to carry out a counter-terrorism operation against the PKK.
Turkish authorities estimate more than 500 PKK terrorists are currently operating in the province, which borders Syria and Iraq, the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The PKK has also set up at least 500 roadblocks and ditches, the source added, telling an Anadolu Agency correspondent there were fears the PKK would use civilians as human shields.
Ahead of the operation, which is the latest in the southeast since the PKK resumed its armed struggle in July, security forces checked civilians leaving the city, parts of which have been sealed off.
In a statement, the provincial governor’s office said the curfew had been imposed to “catch separatist terror organization members” — a reference to the PKK — and destroy obstacles.
Anti-terror operations were recently completed in other districts in Sirnak such as Cizre, Silopi and Idil.
Fresh actions were also announced at the weekend in neighboring Mardin and Hakkari provinces.
Since the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization also by the U.S., and the EU — resumed its 30-year armed campaign more than 290 members of the security forces have been martyred.