PKK ends ceasefire with Turkey, attacks reported near border

Wednesday, September 3, 2003

ANKARA The Kurdish Workers Party has announced an end to a four-year unilateral ceasefire with Turkey.

The group, also called the PKK or Kadek, said the ceasefire ended on Sept. 1. The announcement came amid a renewal of PKK attacks in southeastern Turkey near the Iraqi border.

The PKK has rejected a Turkish offer of amnesty for the surrender of insurgents who operate in northern Iraq. About 5,000 PKK combatants were said to be deployed in Iraq, many of them near the border with Syria.

So far, the Kurdish insurgency group has not formally renewed the war against Turkey, which took place from 1983 until 1999. The unilateral ceasefire was declared by PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan after he was captured in Kenya in 1999.

"The coming three months will be for us a process of a struggle to achieve a bilateral ceasefire," Mustafa Karasu, a senior PKK commander, told the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Politika. "We do not see this as a process of a war."

PKK sources said the group appears divided between elements who want to renew the insurgency campaign against Turkey and those who want to stage peaceful protests among the Kurdish minority in Turkey. The government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has eliminated some of the restrictions imposed on Kurdish culture and language.

In Washington, the United States reiterated that it would work with Turkey to eliminate the PKK presence in northern Iraq. The PKK appears on the State Department list of terrorist groups.

"We have close liaison with Turkish military and Turkish government, and we will continue to operate in that fashion to ensure that it's [northern Iraq] not used as a base for terrorism against Turkey," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Tuesday. "And any concerns that Turkey might have they can raise with us, and we'll try to make sure that they are taken care of."

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